MC partners with non-profit to help ‘Dreamers’ enroll

Maryville College partners with non-profit to help ‘Dreamers’ enroll

Jan. 10, 2018 

Maryville College is partnering with Equal Chance for Education (ECE) to provide scholarships to young undocumented students living in East Tennessee.

The agreement, signed by Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart on Dec. 14, 2017, spells out how the College and ECE Foundation will provide college tuition, mentoring and other ongoing support to students who are not eligible for financial aid or student loans because of their legal status.

“Since its founding, Maryville College has been committed to providing access to higher education to qualified and deserving students,” Bogart said. “We know that there are significant hurdles to a college degree for ‘Dreamers,’ or those who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, so it is exciting to be able to partner with a foundation whose hopes and wishes for these students are the same as our own.

“We look forward to a long and meaningful relationship with Equal Chance for Education.”

Applications now accepted for fall 2018

Considered a “last dollar” scholarship, the ECE award covers a student’s remaining balance, based on financial need. Applicants must be between 16 and 25 years of age, have lived in Tennessee for at least the last 12 months, be a high school graduate or expect to graduate from high school within one year and have demonstrated financial need.

Preference is given to students who have DACA or Temporary Protected Status (or equivalent status).

Applicants must have a satisfactory academic record of a 3.0 GPA or higher, been active in extracurricular activities and have a clear career goal.

Additionally, applicants and their families must commit to paying $4,000 per academic year ($2,000 per semester), as well as cover fees for books and activities like orientation, labs, music lessons, etc. Students chosen for the ECE scholarship are required to live at home, as well, as this saves money and keeps students (many of whom are first-generation college students) in a supportive family environment. They must maintain at least a “B” average throughout their time as an ECE scholar.

Additional criteria and requirements are listed on ECE's website.

ECE is currently accepting applications for scholarships that could be used at Maryville College. Interested students should request an application form by emailing Deadline to apply is March 1.

A separate application to Maryville College also is required. For that information, students should contact the College’s Admissions Office at 865.981.8092 or

MC is first ECE partner in East Tennessee

Until the agreement with Maryville College, ECE had limited its support to students in Middle and West Tennessee, awarding scholarships to qualified students attending Lipscomb, Trevecca, Cumberland, Belmont and Vanderbilt universities; the University of Memphis; Middle Tennessee State University; and Watkins College of Design.

The ECE Foundation provides approximately $1 million annually for scholarships. Currently, 152 ECE scholars are working toward a bachelor’s degree. They have a collective 3.4 GPA and a 99 percent retention rate.

Founder motivated by ‘Dreamer’

Dr. Michael Spalding, a retired urologist living in Nashville, founded ECE, a 501(c)(3) public charity, in 2014. Its mission is “to enable opportunities for higher education without regard to race, religion or nation of birth.”

His motivation was seeing a personal friend who, despite an impressive academic record, was denied the opportunity for higher education because of her legal status. The doctor saw firsthand how costly a college education could be for families who were charged out-of-state tuition and not eligible for federal- and state-backed financial aid student loans and grants.

Spalding decided to not only help his friend but others like her living in Tennessee.

“I just think [‘Dreamers’] might be better contributors to society after getting out of college. I'm dealing with young adults who have spent their entire lives in the United States and are ambitious,” Spalding told a newspaper reporter in 2014. “Service sector or agricultural work shouldn't be their only options.”

According to ECE’s website, the first five graduates are heading to work at Arcadia Health as a certified public accountant, to Vanderbilt as a registered nurse, and to law school, medical school and a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt.

By Karen Beaty Eldridge ’94, Executive Director for Marketing & Communications

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”