Transfer center to help undocumented students

By Juan Calvillo

The East Los Angeles College Transfer Center will be holding an undocumented student transfer workshop today from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in D-7. 

The workshop is a chance for undocumented students, like those that have AB 540 status, to come in with questions and concerns about their scholastic futures.

AB 540 is an assembly bill that allows undocumented students the chance to be charged in-state tuition and fees instead of being charged out-of-state fees when it comes to college coursework.

The workshop is similar to the center’s Transfer 101 workshop, but with the addition of information that targets the specific challenges that come with being an undocumented student.

Transfer Center Director Kirby Dominguez said that when it comes to transferring, some undocumented students miss opportunities to submit transfer documentation to private out-of-state institutions.

Information on transferring out of state is just one example of information that is available when it comes to the transfer workshops.

Dominguez said that students tend to assume that transferring is something to think about when the last semester or two is on their plate.

Dominguez stressed that these workshops give students, “an application timeline, as to when they should start considering applying, the process of applying and all the documentation they’ll need.” 

Being timely is very important in the transferring process.

Dominguez said that when transferring, it’s important to keep up in a timely fashion for all students and that the added documentation that is asked of AB 540 students means that these students really need to get on it early.

He said that just because the documentation has gone through for ELAC doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be issues or the need to update documentation for other institutions.

“The classification of being AB 540 doesn’t follow them unless they provide that documentation,” Dominguez said.

Again, getting all documentation to the schools students want to transfer to in time is extremely important.

Dominguez said that the fact that AB 540 allows students to pay in-state fees and even apply for the California Promise, which was previously known as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, is a huge deal. 

Not turning in paperwork in time could lead to students paying out-of-state fees and many of these schools can be very black-and-white when it comes to deadlines.

 He used Cal State LA, where students would pay more than $6,000 in tuition and madatory fees, as an example.

In contrast international or non-resident student would pay more than $16,000 for tuition and mandatory fees.

“This is where this assembly bill is incredibly beneficial for our students.

“So what ends up happening is that sometimes students forget, they’re like ‘Oh I’ve been classified or categorized as AB 540,’” Dominguez said. 

“When they apply and transfer to, let’s say, a Cal State, if the documents weren’t done upfront and in a timely manner they might start that first semester being charged that $16,000,” Dominguez said.

Having qualified for AB 540 also qualifies students for the California Dream Act which Dominguez says is similar to the Cal Grant in the amount of money dispensed, which are both state financial aid.

Students should also fill out the paperwork for the FAFSA, despite the fact that they won’t get any money federally.

Dominguez pointed out that doing so allows the information to be compiled so that they can be awarded the Dream Act and the California Promise Act, and that transferring increases the amount of money dispensed.

Other forms of money for continuing education when transferring could come from scholarships. 

“Undocumented students should always look for nonprofit organizations, they are always offering scholarships, many specifically for undocumented students.

The Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas (COFEM) organization, offers a scholarship every year for undocumented students,” said Judith Arguello from the                             Dream Resource Center.

She also mentioned that students should always apply despite maybe not meeting the GPA requirements.

She said that many students see that the requirements asked for when applying is something they can’t meet and don’t apply.

Arguello said that sometimes so few apply that these organizations end up giving the scholarships to anyone who has applied.

Dominguez also said that sometimes students may fear the cost of schooling, but they shouldn’t worry about the cost until they get award letters.

This fear often leaves student feeling like they don’t have choices.

He said that there are plenty of challenges that are valid when transferring.

Taking note of that he also pointed out how hard these same students work when it comes to school and that all the hard work these students have put in needs to be honored.

Dominguez said that one of the most important things students need to have is someone, a teacher or a counselor or an ally, to get support from and not do the process alone.

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