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The University of West Florida has received a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor to assist deserving students in their pursuit of the American Dream, officials announced Tuesday.

The gift, which UWF officials called “transformational,” will establish an endowment for need-based scholarships with preference given to immigrants and refugees and will enhance accessibility to higher education for UWF students. UWF enrolled 290 students classified as immigrants in the 2015 fall semester. With the additional scholarship funds, new student enrollment is projected to increase by approximately 30 percent over the next several years.

“Sometimes it amazes me how strong the power of generosity is in our region,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “This gift will provide needed financial aid to students for generations to come. The donor does not want credit for this incredible act of giving. We are deeply grateful.”

Endowment dollars enable UWF to sustain growth, increase its reputation for quality and compete in the higher education marketplace to attract and retain a talented and diverse student body, officials said.

“Providing the opportunity for higher education ensures economic prosperity and mobility for our students as financial barriers can often interfere with academic progress,” said Dr. Meredith Brunen, interim vice president for university advancement. “The foresight of our benefactors is so noble. The ripples of this gift will be felt in perpetuity.”

UWF is currently in the public phase of its 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign, the largest capital fundraising campaign in the university’s history.

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