The University of California system has enacted the DREAM Loan Program to give undocumented students the necessary funds to continue their undergraduate education. The initiative effectively provides access to $5 million worth of state and university aid to over 3,000 UC students with undocumented status.
“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 in a press release.
This DREAM Loan Program is a state-funded, system-wide program that will give undocumented UC undergraduates a chance to obtain the financial resources necessary to succeed. California State Assembly Bill 540, or AB 540, guarantees qualified undocumented undergraduates a resident-level tuition, rather than the increased cost of tuition for out-of-state students.
These AB 540 students within the nine UC campuses will now be eligible to receive funding via the DREAM Loan Program. Although enacted under a State Assembly motion in 2014, funding had been an issue to the program. However, a recent addition of five million dollars will provide undocumented students with the required resources.
Now that this funding is established, the 3,000 undocumented undergraduate students will receive financial assistance from the state of California. This provides these students with assistance they might not have been able to get otherwise. Often, this could be their only option for financial aid.
FAFSA is a common way for most students to receive financial assistance for college. This is not an option for undocumented students. They rely on state support since federal aid is impossible without U.S. citizenship and a social security number.
In addition, this is a barrier to obtaining private loans to pay for the ever-increasing cost of tuition at UC schools. There are few sources in which a student without a social security number could obtain financial assistance, especially for student expenses.
Without access to private or federal loans, undocumented students have little to no options for paying for their education. State support, such as the DREAM Loan Program, is one way in which many of these students are given the opportunity to obtain a higher education.
“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,” State Senator Ricardo Lara said in the UC press release.
This loan will allow these students to borrow up to $4,000 at a 4.29 percent interest rate. Because they are not required to repay the loan until six months after graduation, undocumented students are put in a more financially secure position than before by this aid.
The initiative is sure to provide some relief for the 3,000-plus undocumented UC students without access to federal student loans.