Helping students apply for aid under the California DREAM Act

Undocumented students and supporters rally at the Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles, Sept. 20, 2010, in favor of the DREAM Act.
Undocumented students and supporters rally at the Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles, Sept. 20, 2010, in favor of the DREAM Act. Nataly Tavidian/KPCC

The process of figuring out who will benefit from the California DREAM Act, or how to apply, is anything but easy. And at a time of shrinking budgets and rising tuition costs, many teachers and students have lingering questions about how the undocumented student population will be able to pay for college at all.

In an effort to help students navigate the system, the California Student Aid Commission is starting an aggressive outreach effort to high school counselors, parents, and college admissions officers.

Bryan Dickason, a manager with Cal Grants, says workshops, held throughout the state, including at six sites in the L.A. area, are meant for AB 540 students — undocumented kids who attended a California high school and are headed to a public college.

“Students, to take advantage of the DREAM application and any potential financial aid, need to be AB 540 students. This application, because it’s for a population of students that probably don’t have Social Security numbers, will be a way to get that data to the campuses very efficiently,” Dickason said.

Once the DREAM Act benefits kick in next year, many undocumented students will be eligible for in-state tuition, and able to access private scholarships and state financial aid, cutting costs by almost two-thirds.

The California DREAM Act doesn't offer the possibility of legal immigration status. An effort to recall the legislation fell through earlier this year.

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