MN Dream Act boosts scholarship aid from Mexican government

We noticed (Nanosmile via Wikimedia Commons)

Minnesota’s Dream Act, which offers instate tuition and access to state financial aid to unauthorized immigrant students, has caught the attention of the Mexican government.

It’s boosting to $55,000 the amount of scholarship money it’s giving to Minnesota for the education of Mexican and Mexican-American students. That compares to an average of $20,000 that it gives to individual U.S. states.

Seven Minnesota colleges and universities will match Mexican contribution for a total of $110,000 in scholarships. The size of each will vary by campus.

Four Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) institutions will receive the money: Riverland Community College, Saint Paul College, Century College and a social-service agency affiliated with Minnesota State University – Mankato. Augsburg College, St. Catherine University and Saint Mary’s University are also receiving the scholarships.

Get an education — wherever you are (MPR Photo / Alex Friedrich)

Mexican Consul Alberto Fierro said at a MnSCU reception today that the boost was in recognition of Minnesota’s stance on immigrant students.

“Precisely because the Dream Act passed,” he said, “it was important to [treat] Minnesota as a very special entity.”

Mexico has given out the scholarships since 2005 — a total of $1 million a year, which is split up among U.S. states. The average amount is $20,000, though actual amounts appear to vary widely.

Two years ago, Minnesota received $40,000 after the Mexican government began asking universities and colleges to match the scholarship money with their own. Fierro said Minnesota had the largest number of colleges to offer a match.

Last year, so many states applied for the scholarship, he said, Minnesota’s share was much smaller — about $8,000.

“Every Mexican or person of Mexican descent is a part of the big nation of Mexicans in the world,” Fierro said. “We are convinced that if they are better educated, they will do better in their communities, and most likely this will reflect in some way in Mexico, because they have family there. If they do well here, they will be good examples for their families in Mexico.”