CHICAGO (CBS) — Twenty-two Latino students in Chicago received a combined $110,000 in college scholarships on Tuesday, from the Chicago Latino Caucus Foundation.

The 11 aldermen who make up the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus each picked two students to receive $5,000 college scholarships that will be renewable for three more years.

“It helps them understand that there’s people rooting for them, not just their parents. There’s a neighborhood wanting them to finish,” Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said of the students.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said scholarships were open to students whether they were born in the United States or not.

“We feel that education is that equalizer that allows them to kind of narrow, level the playing field so that way we can have them succeed in the future,” Villegas said. “These students are students that are trying to live the American dream.”

Villegas said corporations and private companies are the biggest donors to the Latino Caucus’ Foundation.

Nathalia Rucci, 17, said she is grateful she’ll now be able to live on campus at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I think it’s amazing, because that’s all I wanted to do is I wanted to dorm, and with this scholarship I’m able to do that,” she said.

Rucci said she’s “proud to represent Latinos” by being one of the scholarship recipients.

Scholarship winner Emiliano Macias said he plans to study nursing and chemical engineering at Goshen College in Indiana.

“I enjoy helping people, and I like using my hands. So I think nursing is a good way to help people, and still stay with my community; help out the people in need,” he said.

Angeles Osorio, 18, graduated from Foreman College and Career Academy, a CPS high school in Portage Park. She said she plans to study accounting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I’m really excited and really thankful for this scholarship, because it’s going to help cover my college tuition,” she said.

Rafael Marrufo said he was surprised when, at the Foreman graduation ceremonies, Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) announced him as among the winners of the Latino Caucus Foundation scholarship. He said he plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and major in chemistry and minor in psychology.