Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Fundraising Campaign: International/Undocumented Student Emergency Fund

March 23rd, 2018

The International and Undocumented Student Emergency Fund will provide emergency assistance to a limited number of students per academic year. Funds will be used for items such as books, classes, health care, housing, self-care, transportation, legal needs. Any remaining funds will be used to respond to unforeseen financial hardships/emergencies for this population of students, such as parental job loss, currency devaluation, medical conditions, etc. Funds will generally be given as one time awards and award decisions will be made based on the applicant’s individual situation. Amounts awarded are subject to availability of funds per year and the applicant may not receive the total amount requested.

Tulane University is home to over 1,400 international students representing 89 different countries and 150 dacamented/undocumented students. Funding is a scarce resource for international/undocumented/dacamented students because they are not eligible for federal or state aid, including workstudy, and they are ineligible for most loans.

We have 24 students and scholars from four of the eight Travel Ban 3.0 countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, and Venezuela. Based on national averages, we estimate about 150 students at Tulane are dacamented (meaning they currently have DACA status) and undocumented. This population of students represents some of the best and brightest from around the world and we are so lucky they are a part of the Tulane community.

One student, Adaora Okoli, knows how important an emergency fund can be. She’d moved to the U.S. from Nigeria with her young daughter to study at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. At first, everything seemed to be going according to plan. But then her sponsor stopped responding, and she was left without a way to pay for tuition, her housing, or even groceries.

“Sometimes, people come here without knowing what’s going to happen,” Adaora says. “Sometimes their country’s in a recession…sometimes the situation of things before you come to enroll in a school changes…things change. That’s enough to get sponsors to say, ‘Okay, we’re sorry, but we’re not going to fund your education anymore.’”

Adaora was one of the lucky few who was able to find a way to stay in school. One year later, she was named by Bill Gates as one of his heroes for her work studying infectious diseases like Ebola. For most people, though, a situation like that could have spelled out the end of their time not just at Tulane, but in the United States. Adaora reflects upon the importance of an emergency fund for international students:

“Nobody plans to come here and not have a way to pay. But sometimes something happens, and that’s what the fund is for…A little really does go a long way.”

Many international/dacamented/undocumented students are excelling in their fields of study, contributing to research and innovation, and helping to make a better world for all of us. At the same time, they are facing great challenges and uncertainty in the current political climate. International students impacted by Travel Ban 3.0 have additional financial burdens and new regulations potentially limiting work authorization opportunities for international students are in the works. Dacamented/undocumented students’ future outlooks are constantly in flux and many are concerned that they could lose DACA coverage in the coming months.

Access to an emergency fund will help these students to swiftly traverse financial challenges and lower their anxiety levels. Community support is integral to ensuring that these students are able to remain at Tulane. We ask for your assistance in securing a bright future for this student population. Every dollar counts, and will help alleviate students’ financial burdens and help them continue their studies and persist towards graduation.

For more information and to DONATE, click here.

General Latin America + People
William E. Bertrand
Wisner Professor of Public Health - Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences