WMU News

WMU launches scholarships to encourage citizenship

June 11, 2004

KALAMAZOO--A new scholarship program at Western Michigan University will help the children of undocumented Michigan residents enroll at WMU and start the process of becoming U.S. citizens.

The First Step Scholars Program is designed to provide higher education opportunities for the sons and daughters of undocumented Michigan residents who have lived and paid taxes in Michigan for the past two consecutive years. The renewable award will cover the differences between the University's resident and nonresident tuition charges for courses taken. For a full-time beginning student, the scholarship could amount to about $6,500 per year. Because of their families' undocumented status, students targeted for the award would not be able to qualify for resident tuition rates, even though they have been living in Michigan.

With funds allocated by WMU President Judith I. Bailey from unrestricted private donations, the scholarships will be available immediately to 2004 or later graduates of Michigan high schools as well as students ready to transfer to WMU from Michigan community colleges. WMU admissions officers have already begun making contact with high school counselors and community leaders who may know students who fit the scholarship profile, and who have the potential to succeed at the University.

"The First Step program is designed to fill a real need and to help students who have been Michigan residents, but who do not yet have citizenship," says John Fraire, WMU dean of admissions. "For too many young people, especially here in Southwest Michigan, residency status stands between them and the opportunity to prepare to become well-educated, productive citizens of the state and nation. This scholarship can truly be the first step for a motivated student who wants to study at WMU and begin the citizenship process."

To be eligible, a student must enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. The award is renewable, providing the recipient remains in good academic standing with the University and maintains a 2.0 grade-point average in WMU course work. As part of the program, recipients will be encouraged to aim for U.S. citizenship and be counseled about how to achieve that goal.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
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