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Financial aid program helps fulfill dreams of undocumented students

By Kartik Kolachina

Jan. 29, 2016 7:19 a.m.

University of California and state general funds have financed a total of $5 million for undocumented students to loan out for the 2015-2016 academic year, through a systemwide program as part of the California DREAM program.

About 3,500 undocumented students will be awarded need-based financial aid as part of the program, according to a UC press release. Undocumented students in California are eligible for state and University aid, but not federal aid. The DREAM program was created in 2014 to provide more assistance to undocumented students, according to the press release.

The DREAM program is a part of Senate Bill 1210, which was introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara and passed by the legislature in 2014. Under the program, eligible students can each receive up to $4,000 annually, but individual campuses can decide to lower the cap.

Each student can take out a maximum of $20,000 in loans during his or her time in the UC system. For the 2015-2016 academic year, the interest rate is 4.29 percent.

To obtain a DREAM loan, students must fill out a California DREAM Act application. Financial aid offices will reach out to current UC students in the coming months who are eligible for DREAM loans.

“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 in the press release.

Kevin Sabo, president of the University of California Student Association, a group of student leaders that advocate on behalf of UC students, said he thinks this program is crucial for California’s undocumented students because funding from the federal level is not a possibility.

“Congress with a majority of Republicans is not passing immigration reform,” he said. “We should be realistic and not expect anything from that level.”

UC students who take out a DREAM loan have a six-month grace period after graduation before they must begin to pay it back.

Compiled by Kartik Kolachina, Bruin contributor.

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