Overheard

ASU+GSV Summit 2021: Hanna Jamal on educational access despite immigration status

Leaders in education and tech gather to share innovative ideas about opportunity and access for everyone
By Laura Aka
August 9, 2021

Innovative finance is a way to drive equitable outcomes in education, says Hanna Jamal, director of Social Finance. The organization is an impact finance and advisory nonprofit that works with a variety of stakeholders to build partnerships with the goal of improving lives.

Social Finance is partnering with TheDream.US to develop an education financing initiative for immigrant youth who are unable to access federal loans for graduate school because of their immigration status.

“We’re specifically focusing on degree programs and institutions that are high quality and that we believe have really strong labor market outcomes. We don’t want to create a situation where we’re saddling a bunch of students with debt that they can’t repay,” says Jamal.

“We focus specifically on eligibility criteria and high labor market types of programs. So, think about your Master’s in nursing health sciences, medical degrees, MBAs, degree programs where we believe students can actually justify the debt that they’re taking on and be able to repay it back over time.”

Currently, the program is targeting scholarship recipients of TheDream.US—which has awarded over 6,500 scholarships to DACA students towards bachelor’s degrees.

Jamal says the interest in graduate school among that population is significant. “Their surveys indicate that 70% to 80% of those students have aspirations of continuing their education by going on to get their professional degrees.”

“Ideally, over time, we’ll be able to further expand the aperture and serve more dreamers that aren’t part of TheDream.US, but that’s where we’re starting. And with this pilot cohort that we’ve launched for this fall, we expect to make about 90 loans to students.”

The program has set a goal to expand the number of awarded loans to 1,000 students over the next five years.

Click here to learn more about Social Finance.

WorkingNation—a collaborating partner of the ASU+GSV Summit—sat down with Jamal in San Diego as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard social media series.

Hear from more innovators in education and tech in the public, private, and nonprofit spheres attending the ASU+GSV Summit 2021 here.

Follow the conversation on social media: #asugsvsummit #workingnationoverheard