The son of a Swiss immigrant wants to make sure foreign-born students have a chance at going to college.

The Twin Cities-based Schuler Education Foundation has pledged to make a $50 million grant that will fund Carleton College scholarships for low-income and immigrant students without legal status provided the Northfield liberal arts college is able to raise the same amount dollar-for-dollar over the next five years.

That $100 million endowment would be used to fund scholarships for high-achieving students through the foundation's Schuler Access Initiative.

"What better investment could there be for this country than to invest in undocumented students?" said Jack Schuler, co-founder and chairman of the Schuler Education Foundation, in a news release.

Schuler, 80, is an emeritus trustee of the college and the parent of a Carleton graduate, whose father made sure his children went to college, according to the release.

"Immigrants have historically displayed optimism and ambition in the decision to leave home for America," Schuler said in a news release. "A liberal arts education is unique to the United States and has proven to be a great foundation for success in postgraduate studies. You become a citizen of the world with a liberal arts education."

Through the foundation's Schuler Access Initiative, the programs aims to provide financial aid to Pell-eligible students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

The college says 13.5% of its students qualify for Pell grants, which are awarded to students with family incomes of about $40,000 or less; at least nine students at the college now have DACA status.

The average financial aid award package for a DACA student at Carleton is now $78,149 while the average financial aid package for those eligible for a Pell grant is $72,987.

The Schuler Access Initiative has opened the program to 20 schools over the next decade. Carleton is among five liberal arts colleges that are participating.

The others include Kenyon College, Union College, Bates College and Tufts University.

"Carleton is thrilled to be part of an initiative that will advance and accelerate our goal of providing greater access to a Carleton education for low-income and undocumented students, who research has shown are among those who stand to gain most from a high-quality liberal arts education," Carleton President Alison Byerly said.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376