More than 3,000 undocumented undergraduate students will have access to a system-wide student loan program for the first time as the University of California implements the California DREAM Loan Program it sponsored, UC President Janet Napolitano announced last Friday.
The financial aid offices of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses will be reaching out to undocumented AB 540 undergraduates with offers of loan assistance through the program, now available for the 2015-2016 academic year. Under Assembly Bill 540, qualifying undocumented students are charged resident fees and exempted from out-of-state supplemental tuition.
“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,” said Napolitano.
The DREAM loan program, proposed by Napolitano in 2014, was authorized that same year when the Legislature passed SB 1210, authored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara. Funding was not made available until this academic year.
The initial $5 million for the California DREAM Program, equally funded by the University of California and state general funds appropriated to UC, will be distributed according to need across campuses.
“The DREAM loan program will grow our college-educated workforce and make good on the promise that a college degree is possible for all hard-working, qualified California students regardless of their immigration status,” Lara said.
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.
Their undocumented status, however, disqualifies them from receiving federal aid, which severely limits their access to student loans. In addition, they have difficulty accessing private loans.
“This new program will reduce that gap,” said Napolitano. “It will help even the playing field for undocumented students struggling to make ends meet.”
Some campuses have eased the financial burden on undocumented students with case-by-case loans from the institution, but the DREAM program provides assistance across the UC system.
Information for students seeking DREAM loans is available here.
Photo Caption: University of California, Merced.