McALLEN, RGV – For the first time since its creation in 2005, a scholarship designed to aid students of Mexican origin will reach institutions of higher education in the RGV.

The IME Becas program was created as part of an initiative from the Mexican government to further academic development of college students of Mexican origin.

Erasmo Martinez, head of the Mexican consulate in McAllen, said the vision of this program is consistent with the Bilateral Forum created by presidents Barack Obama and Peña Nieto in May of 2013. The objective of this forum is to create a close relation between both countries and institutions of higher education in order to help raise student academic mobility, innovative thinking, and economic development, Martinez said. The IME Becas scholarship program offers financial aid to students of Mexican origin living in the United States. Unfortunately, this aid never reached institutions of higher education in the RGV.

In 2014, President Peña Nieto’s administration, in an attempt to extend the government’s aid, managed to quadruple funding for the scholarship program. The funding acquired by this effort resulted in it reaching institutions in the RGV.

This scholarship will distribute $30,000 evenly to South Texas College and The University of Texas-Pan American. Additionally, each institution will match the funds received, resulting in $60,000 allocated to helping further the education of Mexican students of these institutions.

“We understand what a difference this scholarship will make in the lives of these students,” STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed said. “One thousand dollars can make the difference as to whether that student continues college or drops out. I know of no better way to improve the quality of life for Mexican students than to help them get their college degree.”

UTPA has over 21,000 students; over 1,000 of them are Mexican nationals or students of Mexican origin. Dr. Kristen Croyle, vice provost for undergraduate education at UTPA, described UTPA’s commitment to support those students and the hardships many of them face. “They have limited access to some of the other forms of financial aid other students have, so their path is harder,” Croyle said. “A program like IME Becas is a wonderful program for these students.”

Many times, students of these institutions have incredible potential and talent but don’t have the financial resources to continue their education, Croyle said. Often, students are not only working to further their education, they are working to support a household. Any amount of financial help can go a long way for students. In a very real sense, IMA Becas can determine whether a student will continue or start their education.

Since its creation almost 10 years ago, 44,000 students have benefited from the IME Becas program. In the years to come, this number will continue to grow including students from the Valley.

Veronica Gonzales, UTPA’s vice president for university advancement, described the hardships and problems many students of Mexican origin face. “Life gets in the way,” she said.

Students cannot prepare for obstacles life throws at them. Fortunately, the arrival of IME Becas to the Valley will alleviate their immediate hardships and allow them to escape many of their future problems through education.