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March 01, 2018

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester is partnering with donors to guarantee a free education for more than 1,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA.

The full scholarships will help undocumented young people earn degrees online through a SNHU program that gives academic credit for what students know and know how to do.

Tuition costs at least $5,000 a year, but DACA students aren't eligible for federal student aid.

If Congress fails to reach a deal on DACA and students get deported, SNHU says they'll still be able to continue their education online. The university says the move isn't being made to foster political points.

"This is about taking good care of kids," said SNHU president Paul LeBlanc. "It's political to the extent that, I think, everyone is frustrated that while the great majority of Americans want DACA to be extended, our political leadership can't seem to deliver on that. "

Right now, about 240, 000 DACA students are enrolled in college in the U.S. LeBlanc says the country would be crazy to lose them. 

"If you take a look at the talent in Silicon Valley, if you take a look at our Nobel Prize winners, if you take a look at the ranks of university presidents, they are immigrants and refugees as well as native-born Americans," he said.

The move comes on the heels of a decision by the Supreme Court not to take up a case on the program, leaving DACA in place for the time being. 

Last year, President Donald Trump set a March 5 deadline for the program in an effort to get Congress to come up with a more permanent solution. Despite moths of debate, lawmakers have not reached a compromise.

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