UC Berkeley gets country's largest single scholarship fund for undocumented students

The University of California, Berkeley, is a world-class institution that featured 36,142 students and 1,582 full-time staff members during the fall 2011 semester. This school recently received additional financial support that will help some of its students earn degrees and could make the institution more attractive to pupils across the globe.

According to NBC Bay Area, the Evelyn & Walter Haas Junior Fund awarded UC Berkeley with a $1 million scholarship fund to be used solely for undocumented students at the school. The scholarship is the largest of its kind to be issued to a college or university in the country.

"We are committed to advancing rights and creating opportunities so that all people can live, work and raise their families with dignity," Haas Junior Fund President Ira S. Hirschfield told the news outlet. "These motivated, hardworking and inspiring students are an asset to our state and our country."

What does the scholarship fund mean for UC Berkeley?
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau noted that the school currently hosts about 200 undocumented students. It was illegal to provide these students with scholarships until last year, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Junior Fund scholarship ensures that many of these pupils can receive the same financial assistance as other low-income scholars.

University officials have yet to determine how the funds will be distributed, but said that undocumented students can receive privately funded scholarships through the school. Additionally, UC Berkeley administrators stated that these students could eventually be eligible for Cal Grants, financial aid available for Golden State residents, and publicly funded scholarships.

Uriel Rivera, an undocumented student at UC Berkeley, said the scholarship fund could have an immediate impact. She noted that she had to take a temporary leave to get a job and could use the extra financial assistance to quickly return to school.

"I'm so grateful for this opportunity," Rivera told the news source. "You're not just paying for a student to go to college, you are helping a whole community."

Since 1953, the Evelyn & Walter Haas Junior Fund has provided more than $408 million in grants. UC Berkeley could benefit from the $1 million scholarship fund, and Elise Haas will also provide $300,000 toward the Robert D. Haas Dreamers Resource Center.

Administrators with UC Berkeley also plan to offer new services to help high school students transition to life at the school. Officials are developing an online resource that will serve as a one-stop destination for information that students and their families can use to learn about the university. Additional legal services support and mental health resources could also become available soon.

The impact of the scholarship fund on the Berkeley community
Students who have extra financial support can earn their degrees and become essential contributors to the community. These people could help the Berkeley economy further expand, and may significantly impact the local real estate market.

There are many homes for sale in Berkeley, and rising interest in the area could help property values increase quickly. In fact, Freddie Mac reports that the rate on a 15-year fixed-term mortgage was 2.66 percent as of December 13, 2012.  Homebuyers could take advantage of historically low interest rates to obtain houses in an area that features quality schools, numerous attractions, a variety of entertainment and more.

Check out some of the homes available in Berkeley to learn more about the local real estate market. However, property buyers may need to act fast - lower-than-average mortgage rates may increase and the city's housing inventory could decrease, which could shift the market in favor of sellers.