Since 2012, Claremont, California’s Pitzer College has offered the Arnaldo Rodriguez Scholarship which is a “full-ride scholarship to an undocumented student who resides [illegally] in California.”
The award is named in honor of a former admissions vice president at the school.
Mr. Rodriguez, according to the Claremont Independent, had once encountered a student “who was at the top of her class and had lived in the US all her life but didn’t qualify for any financial aid due to her undocumented status.”
However, the scholarship doesn’t apply to just any student residing illegally in the country: Only those of Latin American descent qualify. Not to mention, the Rodriguez Scholarship has a much greater dollar value than Pitzer’s largest merit-based scholarship.
The Pitzer College website states, “the need-based, four-year scholarship is awarded to top-performing students of Latin American descent who attended high school in California and are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.” These students also must fit a certain ethnic profile. “For people of full European descent, unfortunately [the scholarship] doesn’t apply,” [admissions counselor JR] Ramsey said. It follows from this that African and Asian students, too, are unqualified for the award, but Ramsey did remark “if you’re part-Latino, you’re fine” and “if you’re in DACA categorization, that still counts.”
The scholarship covers the costs of full-time tuition, student activities fees, housing, school-provided medical insurance and a meal plan. In total, this sums up to around $70,000 per year—more than a quarter of a million dollars over the course of an undergraduate education. The largest and only merit-based scholarship given by Pitzer, the Trustee Merit Scholarship, offers $5,000 per academic year—a tiny fraction of the amount given to undocumented immigrants—and does not increase with hikes in tuition and student fees as the Rodriguez scholarship does.
Illegal students who don’t get the Rodriguez gift “are treated the same as international applicants when considered for standard financial aid.”
“I think [undocumented students] find a lot of support here at Pitzer,” said Ramsey.