Speaking of popular scholarships in the United States, it is safe to say that the majority of them are aimed at providing financial assistance. While some of them may relate to academic merits, the lion’s share belongs to those students who also have to study and accommodate to a different way of life. The talk goes about being an immigrant, a refugee, or a New American. In simple terms, an immigrant student is a person who has left his or her country by settling permanently in another land. Speaking of the immigrants in the United States, it relates to those students who fall under the United States Immigration and Nationality Act by getting the Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States document. According to the American Immigration Council, over half of all immigrants in the United States are naturalized citizens that are concentrated at both ends of the educational spectrum. It is also one of the reasons why scholarships for immigrants are so important.
According to statistical data provided by Migration Policy Network, there were over 5.3 million immigrant-origin students in the United States in 2018. There were at least 20,000 such students in 32 states, making up over 30% of students in nine states. It must be noted that the vast majority of immigrant-origin students are U.S. citizens. As of 2018, we have 68% of American citizens by birth and another 16% belonging to citizens by naturalization. The same can be said about New Americans, the children of immigrants, or those who have recently immigrated to the United States. As a rule, they are also eligible for relevant scholarships regardless of their academic merits, race, gender, and social background.
The Challenges Faced By Immigrant Students
Unfortunately, the immigrants in the United States are suffering from the stigma and false accusations of being drug traffickers, violent types, and those who are prone to social disturbance or any illegal activity. They are forced to live in constant fear of ICE raids and the endless checks that affect their academic lives negatively. The studies show that immigrant and refugee status students often suffer from depression, anxiety, and various panic disorders. The same relates to undocumented students and New Americans who are also facing certain health challenges and various mental issues.
Some additional issues include:
- Speaking With Accented English. According to immigrant students, they have to learn a new language as well. Even if they know it well, they often speak with a non-English accent, which means that the chances of being discriminated against are much higher.
- Establishing Strong Social Bonds. It is much harder for immigrant students to establish specific social bonds since they do not have school friends or people in the local community that would know their parents. Moreover, the attitudes often include negative bias.
- Feeling Alienated. The mental state of immigrant students is often flawed by the feeling of loneliness and isolation, which is often impossible to bear in the challenging academic community.
- Different Way of Life. Finally, such students face a different culture where they have to accommodate all the time. It also includes the times of leisure, transportation, and daily communications.
One should also mention biased academic decisions among college professors. Even though it is not always the case, the chances of getting this kind of pressure cannot be ignored.
Finding Support As an Immigrant (Refugee) Student
As a rule, your looking for help should start from the local community or the college of choice as your academic advisor can point you towards available resources depending on your legal state and the laws of the particular state. It would also be helpful to consider checking the pages of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services where they list the basic information concerning available resources.
We intentionally did not list any on-campus assistance resources because they will always differ from place to place. Nevertheless, you should consider your college’s Help Center in terms of:
- Additional Language Courses.
- Psychological Counselling Groups.
- Group Projects.
- Various Community Services.
- Music, Sports, and Arts Classes on Campus.
In terms of financial support and health-related assistance, every case is usually studied individually, which means that you should discuss this issue with your college and have your financial proof of need documents available.
- Center for New Americans (CNAM). One of the best resources that contain information for immigrants, refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers. Even though it is mostly aimed at Western Massachusetts, it has a plethora of helpful information from career preparation to free English classes and legal services.
- UEN - Support Students New to America. This resource focuses on the advocacy of the New Americans in the academic community. You can receive all kinds of New Americans support types and services from legal to educational recommendations.
- Grand Forks Public Library Resources for New Americans. It provides you with various educational resources, English language tests, and tools to help you accommodate and read the list of books that will help you to improve your understanding of life and culture in the United States.
- Job Search Tools for Immigrants. It is a great collection of resources that will help both immigrants and refugees looking for a full-time or a part-time job. Among the offerings are recruitment agencies for foreigners, specifically curated to match immigrants with suitable employment opportunities.
- National and State Resources for Immigrants. It provides you with a list of helpful resources based on your state and legal status. One of the best websites you must check!
Once again, remember that you should start by discussing your needs with the college advisor or even your immigration officer when you need legal help or cannot find the information you are looking for.
The College Support Types Provided to Immigrant Students
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the kind of support that you can receive as an immigrant, refugee, asylum-seeker, and New American will always vary from state to state. Moreover, it will always differ depending on your college as you discuss scholarships for children of immigrants or talk about mental health services that you may require. What you may receive in most cases includes:
- Leadership Training Sessions.
- Technical Assistance for ESL Students.
- Financial Assistance Grants.
- Various Accommodation Programs.
In addition to your college's leaflet, you should also consider checking Office for Civil Rights to learn about what Federal Civil Rights laws will work in your particular case. If your college has rejected your request on the basis of race, color, national origin, lack of English skills, disability, gender, or age, you should consider turning to a certified officer at this organization. It is also a good resource to learn more about the ways to receive federal financial assistance.
Financial Aid for Immigrants (Refugees) and New Americans
As the scholarship for immigrants topic comes up, the very first aspect that is discussed related to Financial Aid. It must be noted that we have four main categories of immigration status with specific financial aid opportunities.
- Naturalized Citizens. It includes those who have the same rights as native-born American citizens.
- Permanent Immigrants. It relates to lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees. It also means that federal student aid considers permanent immigrants. It means that they can receive grants, work-study documents, and student loans.
- Temporary Residents. It includes foreign students on a visa. Their status in terms of financial help will always depend on exchange programs and their courses.
- Discretionary Status Students. It stands for undocumented immigrants. It is one of the most challenging groups to receive any financial help.
Financial Aid in the United States also includes four important categories: federal student aid, state aid, institutional aid, and private college scholarships. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal student aid. However, it does not relate to private or state aid.
According to statistical data, there are over 427,000 undocumented students enrolled in the United States. The state data will always vary from state to state. For example, in Texas alone, the first-generation immigrant students include 162,000 students, while second-generation immigrant students represent 396,000 learners. Speaking of exchange students, the number is 77,097 students, which makes matters of financial help quite important!
You should always start with the FAFSA Application form, which stands for the Free Application of Federal Student Aid. It has all the necessary information. As one can see, it is recommended to talk to your financial aid officer to make sure that you fill the FAFSA form correctly.
Scholarships for Immigrants (Refugees) + New Americans
Here are good immigrants scholarship selections:
- CharterUp National Scholarship For Immigrants And Refugees. A $10,000 scholarship is meant for applicants born outside the USA. You must have a recent transcript with a GPA of 3.4 or higher.
- Dream.US National Scholarship. You must be eligible for in-state tuition at the program's partner college and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You must plan to enroll full-time.
- Dream.US Opportunity Scholarship. It is for those cases when you have to pay out-of-state tuition as an immigrant student. You must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher.
- Gates Millenium Scholars Program. These scholarships are meant for immigrant students of various races and ethnic backgrounds. You must have a significant financial need in the United States. Students with asylum status are of higher priority.
- Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. It offers a $90,000 award for immigrants, refugees, and first-generation U.S. students. You must be planning to get enrolled in a full-time program. You must be aged below 31.
- Running of the Bulls Scholarship for Immigrants. You can receive up to a $1,000 scholarship. It is for immigrants or children of immigrants. You must show a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Scholarmatch. It provides free and in-person online support for low-income students with their college application process and up to graduation. Consider it as a personal tutor.
- The Renaissance Foundation. It offers up to $4,000 a year tuition fees and housing awards depending on your financial need. You also receive support from the foundation's specialists with all your higher education needs and graduation. It is also available for undocumented students.
- Champlain College New American Student Scholarship. It is meant for asylum-seeking students. While it is only meant for those who plan to attend Champlain College, it also has various online programs.
- Emergency Refugee Assistance Scholarship Fund. It is meant for students all over the world who are refugees or asylum seekers.
- Small Giants Scholarship for Refugees. It is meant for those students with asylum or refugee status planning to attend the famous University of People.
- The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. It is like an unpaid job where you can apply as a professor, researcher, or individual who requires help by leaving their home country because of academic harassment.
- Achievement Scholarship for Refugees and Immigrants of Wake County. While this is only an example of scholarships for refugees, immigrants, and first-generation citizens, it is one of the many examples that you can seek in your state.
- Mexican-American Dream Scholarship. It is one of those Council of Mexican Federations in North America awards where you can receive up to $500 as a community college student and $1,000 as an undergraduate student.
- The Hegg Hoffet Fund. It is meant for female students who want to renew their professional field courses. It also includes language courses and integration in terms of culture and passing of the national exams.
As you can see, these are only some immigrant scholarship resources. Always remember to look for scholarships and grants in your local community!
Here is the list of important resources you must consider:
- Emergency Financial Resources. It lists resources for immigrant students and organizations in need of immediate financial help and resources.
- Healthcare Access for Undocumented Folk. It includes free and low-cost clinics that support people regardless of their immigration or refugee status.
- Immigrants Rising. It offers legal and healthcare support based on your immigration state, including undocumented immigrants.
- Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence. It is the crisis prevention hotline where you can report cases of violence in over 16 languages.
- Switchboard. This organization helps to connect and support refugee students and families currently in home-based learning.
- American Immigrant Representation Project. It is the Immigration Justice Campaign that provides legal help.
- Immigration Justice Corps. It offers legal representation for students, parents, and children in court along with legal tips.
- The American Civil Liberties Union. It helps to fight discrimination, including refugees, New Americans, and undocumented Americans.
- Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project. It aims at keeping families together and providing students with educational help.
- Immi. This great organization helps immigrants consider various options in the USA, including education and legal help.
- Immigration Advocates Network. It offers online resources by connecting immigrants to seek justice.
- International Refugee Assistance Project. It helps law students to fight for the human rights of refugees in the USA. You can turn for help and receive immediate free assistance.
- National Immigrant Justice Center. It helps immigrants to provide their legal and academic documents to receive a different status.
- Women's Refugee Commission. It helps to protect women from violence, persecution, abuse, and harassment in the academic community.
- American Council on Education. It has various information for talented international students, New Americans, and refugee learners.
- Ling App Language Learning Platform. It is an interactive language learning platform that offers a wide selection of languages for non-English speakers
Make sure that you check out these helpful resources and remember that you have a legal right to study and succeed!