Beginning next year, the University of Miami will begin offering "free" tuition, room and board and health insurance for children of illegal immigrants across the state, even as more than 18 million taxpaying Floridians struggle just to make ends meet.
The Naples Daily News reported Friday that starting in fall 2018, DREAMers across the state of Florida will be eligible to receive more than $62,000 per year in financial aid. DREAMers are the roughly 790,000 children whose parents illegally brought them to the U.S. at a young age and who received deferred action on their immigration status under the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The amount includes the cost of annual tuition at the University of Miami ($47,040), fees ($1,444) and housing and meals ($13,666), according to the university's website. The financial aid packages available to DREAMers also includes health insurance.
The name of the university's grant program, U Dreamers, was established in 2016 to "meet 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need." Eligible DREAMer applicants must have attended an accredited Florida high school and submit an essay. They must also maintain at least a 3.2 high school GPA and score at least 1100 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT, according to the Naples Daily News.
"Miami, the city this University calls home, has long been a model in demonstrating the remarkable role immigrants and refugees can play in creating a dynamic and thriving community where everyone — regardless of race, religion, or country of origin — can contribute to prosperity and well-being in the United States and around the world," University of Miami President Julio Frenk said last year.
The U Dreamers grant was first open only to graduating high school seniors who are DREAMers in Miami-Dade County. The program will expand next year to include any graduating high school senior in Florida who is a DREAMer and any transfer student from another accredited university who is a DREAMer.
University of Miami Assistant Director of Admissions said the school eventually wants to offer the scholarship to every DREAMer in the U.S, according to the Naples Daily News.
While the University of Miami is a private institution, it receives hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in federal taxpayer dollars. In 2015, the University of Miami got more than $365,000 in federal funding, according to the National Science Foundation.
The University of Miami is one of 32 private colleges and universities in the Sunshine State that received a combined $89 million from Florida's taxpayer-funded Florida Resident Access Grant in 2013-2014. That amount does not take into account the amount of money the school receives each year in federally funded Pell grants.
A university representative did not immediately respond to TheBlaze when asked how much the school receives from the federal government.
But, as the University of Miami begins to offer DREAMers thousands of dollars in financial aid, millions of hardworking Floridian taxpayers are struggling just to make ends meet. According to a February 2016 report by the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs in the Florida Senate, more than 18.9 million Floridians live below the poverty level. College-aged adults between the ages of 18 and 24 made up the majority of impoverished Floridians, accounting for 25.1 percent of the nearly 19 million cited by the report.
CNN reported Friday that President Donald Trump is currently considering shutting down the DACA program for all future applicants. There are currently around 790,000 DREAMers living in the U.S.
It's not clear whether the Trump administration will maintain or rescind deferred action for these individuals.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with nine other attorneys general, have threatened the Trump administration with legal action unless it rescinds DREAmer status for all of the nearly 800,000 individuals by September 5, according to CNN.