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Missouri scholarship 'A-plus' program opening up to immigrant students

Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education is opening up a community college scholarship program to young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

That means students who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will be able to trade tutoring hours for two years of tuition reimbursement through the A+ Scholarship Program. 

The deferred action program is tied to an Obama administration initiative that started in 2012. 

"Through extensive research and consulting with attorneys who specialize in immigration law, it is my belief that individuals who have met the requirements for (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) can provide federally issued documentation that confirms lawful presence in the United States," writes department General Counsel William Thornton in an email.

It's up to the Department of Homeland Security to grant status for the deferred action program.

Jessica Piedra, a Kansas City immigration attorney, helped petition for a change in the A+ program rules.

"These particular students have given back to their students with the tutoring hours and have really earned this scholarship," says Piedra.

Piedra says many Missouri students who qualify for the program are the first in their family to go to college and wouldn't be able to afford it without the A+ scholarship.

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