Dream on: loan program to help undocumented students

By Jose Rojas

An estimated 10,000 undocumented undergraduate students enrolled at University of California or California State University campuses will be                                 able to qualify for a special loan aimed to reduce their tuition.

California Govenor Jerry Brown signed The Dream Loan Program into law in 2014, but funding didn’t become available until last month.

The Dream Loan Program received a total of $7 million last month, $5 million for the nine UC campuses and $2 million for the 23 Cal State campuses.

However, this program is only designed for undergraduate UC and Cal State students.

“I’m very proud of the fact that California has always led when it comes to providing much-needed resources for our undocumented student population, understanding that they are here, that this is their home and that many of them were brought here not out of their own volition,” State Senator Ricardo Lara said in an interview with Los Angeles Times.

“By reducing barriers and expanding access to higher   education for undocumented students, the University of California is investing not only in the future of these students, but also in the future of our state and nation,” UC President Janet Napolitano said on universityofcalifornia.edu.

Under current law, undocumented students who graduate from a California high school and meet the California Dream Act requirements are eligible for state and university aid.

Some campuses have eased the financial burden for undocumented students with loans determined on case-by-case by the institution, but the program provides assistance across the UC system.

California is one of at least 18 states that permit students who are in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition rates, according to an October report by the            National Conference of State Legislatures.

UC Riverside is making its own strides in aiding undocumented students on campus by planning to hire a new program coordinator specially for students without legal residency by the end of October.

There are approximately 300 undocumented students at UC Riverside, many of whom qualify for this loan program.

“This is a brilliant program that is going to help many of us on our higher education goals. I know that it is going to help a lot once I transfer to a four-year university by this fall.” East Los Angeles College student Ana Chavez said.

“I agree that undocumented students should be able to get financial aid to go to college, regardless of their citizenship because there many talented students in the math, science and technology field out there but cannot attend to college because of their financial status,” ELAC student Yesenia Ramirez said.

California is one of the few states that help undocumented students achieve their education goals by passing laws that allow them to continue with higher education at low cost or no cost at all, like the AB 540 laws, that allow undocumented students to qualify for the California state fee waiver.

To learn more about The Dream Loan Program and to how apply for this program visit the UC web page at universityofcalifornia.edu.

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