Sonoma State University announced Tuesday that it has been deemed eligible by the U.S. Department of Education to compete for millions of dollars in federal grants aimed at improving student success as a federally designated "Hispanic-serving institution."
In addition to announcing the designation, the university said it has created an "Undocu-Resource Center" that will provide a range of support services and “help undocumented students achieve their dreams at the university.”
According to the SSU, 33 percent of its 8,600 undergraduates are Hispanic.
“This is wonderful news for our students and for the Sonoma State community,” university President Judy Sakaki stated in the announcement. “It’s not enough to just open our doors to Latino students and others who have been traditionally underrepresented on college campuses. We must do everything we can to help all of our students succeed and graduate.”
SSU reported that of all applications it receives, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino applications has been on the rise, from 23 percent in the fall of 2012 to 33 percent last fall.
According to the university, its application for the designation was submitted last December. Sakaki had established a campus workgroup to be deemed such an institution, even though the university did not have the percentage of students needing financial assistance called for under federal rules.
Sonoma State was able to make a compelling case that it deserved a waiver based on its overall engagement with multiple disadvantaged student populations.
In addition to opening the doors to more federal funds, the university said the designation also waives the matching requirement for federal work-study funds. That “provides an opportunity for Sonoma State to expand student employment opportunities to low-income students from all backgrounds.”