Colorado Mountain College launches Fund Suenos, or Dream Fund, to lower financial barriers for DACA students | VailDaily.com

Colorado Mountain College launches Fund Suenos, or Dream Fund, to lower financial barriers for DACA students

Colorado Mountain College has launched a program called Fund Suenos, a philanthropist-funded income-sharing agreement for students who don’t qualify for federal financial aid. “Fund Suenos is designed to break down persistent financial barriers for Dreamers and other students to ensure we are inclusive and accessible to everyone, modeling the democratic promise of higher education," said Dr. Carrie Hauser, president of Colorado Mountain College, shown here with a CMC student.

EDWARDS — Colorado Mountain College is creating Fund Suenos, which translates to the Dream Fund. It's designed to help eliminate the up-front tuition costs for students who are often ineligible for federal grants and loans to help pay for education after high school, such as those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or Dreamers.

"Our educational and social mission extends to all Coloradans," said Dr. Carrie Hauser, president of Colorado Mountain College. "Fund Suenos is designed to break down persistent financial barriers for Dreamers and other students to ensure we are inclusive and accessible to everyone, modeling the democratic promise of higher education."

How it works

Dreamers and other undocumented residents can work in the United States but are not eligible for federal college grants and loans because they are undocumented, Hauser said.

The Dream Fund will help those students pay for college through income-sharing agreements. Students pay no up-front tuition in exchange for a fixed percentage of income after graduation over a set period of time.

Income-share agreements are becoming more common among colleges and universities, Hauser said. Unlike many of those models, CMC's Dream Fund is designed to create financial assistance for a group with limited or no other options and to create a payment method that avoids excessive student debt.

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Private donors to the CMC Foundation are funding the start of CMC's Dream Fund. As students repay the Dream Fund, it will become a revolving loan fund for future students.

Carole Segal, co-founder of Crate and Barrel and a member of CMC's board, is one of those funding the startup.

"As a proud donor to Colorado Mountain College's Fund Suenos program, I am hopeful that these efforts will inspire others to explore new, innovative ways to support DACA students and others who struggle to make the dream of college a reality," Segal said.

Loan averse

Traditional student loan debt can crush college aspirations in first-generation students and other groups that often do not attend college, studies have found. A Vanderbilt study found that Hispanic students were more likely to be loan averse than white students, and men were more loan-averse than women.

"The rising cost of higher education continues to be a barrier for many Dreamers, especially because they are not able to access traditional financial assistance. This is a very real challenge for a sizable population of students in our state," said Luis A. Colon, chair of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

We'll need their educations

A Georgetown University study found that the vast majority of jobs in Colorado's economy now require education beyond high school. The U.S. economy will fall short 5 million properly trained workers with relevant certificates and degrees by 2020, less than a year and a half away.

"Meaningful changes in American history are not always the result of power and influence but, rather, innovation, tenacity and resourcefulness," said Walter Isaacson, professor of history at Tulane University, former CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN and editor of Time magazine. "I have worked closely with Colorado Mountain College for years and know it is a place of rare determination and imagination."

Dreamers deserve the opportunity to pursue an education, said Gov. John Hickenlooper.

"These students need champions like the leaders at Colorado Mountain College and its donors who continue to stitch a safety net in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform," Hickenlooper said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Income Share Agreements in Brief

• Income-share agreements (or ISAs) are a form of income-based payment that enable colleges, universities and accelerated training providers to share risk with students — by aligning an institution’s revenue with the employment outcomes of graduates.

• Research suggests that ISAs can reduce perceived — and actual — barriers to investment in education and training, including cultivation of college-going aspirations among low-income and historically underrepresented student populations.

• There is growing bipartisan support for the ISAs, as reflected in policy efforts in both the House and the Senate to create a legal structure for the model.

• Under the terms of a typical ISA, students pay reduced or no tuition up-front in exchange for a set percentage of their income after graduation. ISAs generally include: o Caps on both the total amount that can be paid (e.g., 1.5x the amount of tuition deferred)

• A fixed term, during which a student is expected to pay; and

• Minimum salary thresholds, to ensure that students only make payments if they receive the economic benefit of education or training program.

Unlike loans, ISAs do not require or involve:

• Any principal balance to be repaid.

• Any interest that accrues over time.

• Any debt or repayment.