State Law: The California Dream
Act of 2011
Cal Grant Primer
The Office of Financial Aid
Scholarships For Undocumented
Federal Executive Order: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Paying for CollegePaying for College is the toughest issue for undocumented students and their families. Families often can only provide room and board for their students, so raising funds for tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation and other costs of college fall onto the students’ shoulders. However, there are two state laws called the California Dream Act that AB 540 students can use to access financial scholarships and state financial aid. For complete information on the Cal Dream Act go to the California Student Aid Commission web page at http://www.csac.ca.gov. Please note that the application deadlines determine students’ eligibility, so don’t miss out on this new form of state assistance.
State Law: The California Dream Act of 2011
The California Dream Act of 2011(AB 130 and AB131) is the name of laws created by two bills authored by Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011 which became effective in 2012. The California Student Aid Commission was directed to develop an application form for AB 540 students to apply for California state financial aid. Completion of this form is required to determine eligibility for state financial aid for AB 540 eligible students. The application is processed by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and sent to the campus Financial Aid Office.
The Dream Application can be found on line at www.csac.ca.gov. It is NOT an application for Federal financial aid. Undocumented AB 540 must NOT complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) because they are not eligible for Federal financial aid. Filing a FAFSA can be considered by Homeland Security’s as an application for a public benefit for which an undocumented student is not eligible. Penalties can be severe, including jail and deportation.
Only legal permanent residents, naturalized and native students, eligible to file for Federal aid, should apply using the FAFSA to maximize their opportunities to receive state and federal student financial aid. The FAFSA application is on line at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Cal Grant Primer
There are two types of grants available as Cal Grants: the entitlement grants and the competitive grants. Each has its own requirements.
Under entitlement grants, eligible student are guaranteed a Cal Grant A if they have at least a 3.0 grade point average and apply by March 2 either of the year they graduate from high school or the following year. The Cal Grant A guarantee provides for tuition and fees at the California State University, the University of California and tuition support at participating independent colleges and universities and career colleges. If a student receives a Cal Grant A but attends a California Community College first, his or her award will be reserved for up to three years until the student transfers to a four year college, if the student continue to qualify. These students must notify their transfer school that they have a reserved grant. High school seniors and community college transfer students are a targeted group for Cal Grants, however all other undocumented students are encouraged to apply as there are other university support programs for which the students may be eligible.
Cal Grant A and B Competitive Awards are available for students who do not qualify for the entitlement grants. The competitive grants are not guaranteed. Each year 22,500 competitive grants are awarded. . Half of the grants are awarded to eligible students that apply by March 2. The remaining half is set aside for California Community College students who meet the September 2 deadline. For a complete description, go to the www.csac.ca.gov page.
There is a third Cal Grant for Technical and Vocational Students. Cal Grant C awards assist with tuition and training costs for occupational, technical, and vocational programs. The award includes funds for books, tools and equipment , tuition and fees if the student will be attending a school other than a California Community College (community colleges don’t charge tuition and fees will be waived as a Cal Grant recipient). Funding is available for up to two years, depending on the length of the program. To qualify, one must enroll in an occupational, technical, or vocational program that is at least four months long at a California Community College, an independent college, or a vocational/career school. Even though a GPA is not required to apply for a Cal Grant C, students are still encouraged to submit that information because it can only help their chance of receiving an award.
Part One: AB 130
Signed into law on July 25, 2011, AB 130 became effective January 1, 2012. AB 130 allows AB 540 students to be eligible for colleges and universities privately funded scholarships. AB 130 is the first of the California Dream Act. At some universities all privately funded scholarships offered by the university are open to AB 540 students. The only scholarships that are not available to AB 540 students are those where a donor has specified the eligibility requirements.
Part Two: AB 131
AB 131 was signed into law on October 8, 2011, and became effective on January 1, 2013. This new law allows students who meet the AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive institutional grants, like the State University Grant, Educational Opportunity Program and Services fee waivers and the University of California Grants. California Community College students can apply for and receive Board of Governors fee waivers. AB 540 eligible students can also apply for and receive state financial aid, including Cal Grants and Chafee Foster Youth Grants for use at eligible public and private institutions.
To qualify for California financial aid through AB 131, AB 540 students must:
See http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/General-ITIN-Information for information on how to apply for a US issued ITIN for those without a US issued social security card.
BACK TO TOP
Partial payments are accepted only with an approved installment agreement. A non-refundable administrative fee and a down payment are required to sign up for Installment Plans.
Examples of Eligibility Requirements for Installment Plans
BACK TO TOP
The office at each campus provides financial and advisory assistance to enable students to pursue a quality education. It administers funds that are awarded to students who demonstrate a need to cover educational expenses. Most funds administered by the Financial Aid Office are made available by the Federal and State governments, and by private sources, and federal funds require proof of US citizenship or legal residency. The information submitted by US citizens and legal residents is verified with the Federal government to ensure proper use of Federal and State funds.
Unprotected immigrant students are not currently eligible for any federal aid and must NOT file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). However, AB 540 students are now eligible for State aid. Effective January 1, 2012, AB 130 was passed into law making State administered scholarships available to AB 540 students. On January 1, 2013, AB 540 students became eligible to apply for State financial aid through the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). Information and the application are found at http://www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp.
Apply for financial aid using the California Dream Application
BACK TO TOP
Scholarships for Undocumented Students
Students can apply for any scholarship that does not require U.S. citizenship and/or state residency. Even if the application asks for a social security number, it is wise to ask whether an Individual Taxpayer Number (ITIN) will be sufficient. (See how to obtain an ITIN.)
Important Information about Applying for Scholarships
Please note that the following information will help you get your applications organized:
Examples of services offered by On-Campus Scholarship Centers include: advising on the scholarship application process; access to a scholarship database containing information for on and off-campus scholarships; proofing of scholarship applications, personal statements and essays; access to the Internet and a typewriter. The Centers also administers several scholarship programs and generates funds for scholarships.
BACK TO TOP
There is a group of AB 540 and other undocumented students who may apply for work authorization, a Social Security card, and a California Driver’s License if they have qualified for the presidential executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For information on DACA initiated in 2012, by President Barak Obama go to the http://www.dhs.gov/deferred-action. DACA is a policy for “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children”. It is intended for individuals “who lack the intent to violate the law”. The criteria include:
A Word of Caution
Some students have been ill advised by well-meaning people who do NOT understand the importance of adhering to immigration law as it relates to undocumented students. Even some parents have been mistaken about the meaning of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the issuance of Social Security Numbers (SSN).