Two Long Beach colleges are among 12 nationally that will offer scholarships to low-income students who are in this country illegally and not eligible for federal financial aid, officials announced Tuesday.

Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach are participating in the new national program called TheDream.US, an initiative launched by several prominent philanthropists.

The name refers to the federal Dream Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 1.7 million young people brought to the country illegally as children.

In 2011, California adopted a version that provides immigrants in the state illegally access to state financial aid at public colleges and universities. The state also allows these students to pay in-state tuition.

The new scholarship program will cover tuition, fees and book costs of as much as $25,000 for 2,000 students over the next decade.

"Assisting these students achieve their academic goals is good for our community and our economy as once they obtain a college credential, their families are more likely to contribute to the economy in positive ways," Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement.

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must have graduated from a U.S. high school with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher, must qualify for the federal deferred action immigration program, must demonstrate financial need, must show strong motivation to succeed in a career-ready or bachelor's degree program and be enrolled in a participating institution.

The deadline to apply is March 31.

"This initiative represents an excellent opportunity for our two institutions to serve these hard-working and motivated students in reaching their personal and career goals," Cal State Long Beach Interim President Donald Para said in a statement.

The scholarship program was launched by former Washington Post executive Donald E. Graham, Democratic activist Henry R. Munoz III and Carlos Gutierrez, who was Commerce secretary under President George W. Bush. The group raised $25 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Fernandez Foundation and others.

Other participating colleges are in New York, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.




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