DREAM Loan Program Goes into Effect

Undocumented AB 540 Undergrads to Receive Need-Based Financial Aid from State, UC System

Two years after the California DREAM Loan Program passed into law, $5 million worth of UC- and state-funded financial aid is available for over 3,000 undocumented undergrads in the UC system. UC President Janet Napolitano announced in a Thursday press release that financial aid offices at all nine undergraduate-serving UC campuses will being offering need-based loan assistance to undocumented AB 540 students for the 2015-2016 school year.

State-funded aid for undocumented students became a reality with SB 1210, a bill authored by state Senator Ricardo Lara and signed into law in 2014. But funding for the DREAM Loan Program was not received until this school year, when AB 540 students — California DREAM Act students — can begin borrowing up to $4,000 each year in state loans. It’s up to each UC campus to determine how much a student can borrow, and no student may receive more than $20,000, states the UC webpage for the program. This academic year, the DREAM Loan interest rate is 4.29 percent.

“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,” said Lara in the UC release. The program is significant because it greatly increases college affordability for AB 540 students, who are ineligible for federal loans and who often face challenges securing private loans without a Social Security number.

“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 in Thursday’s release.

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