The California Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors – or DREAM – Act was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011. The act allows those child immigrants of a certain age, and who are without proper legal documentation, to apply for student aid benefits if these children have attended school on a regular basis and would meet GPA and in-state tuition requirements but for their illegal status. There is both federal DREAM Act legislation, as well as DREAM Act laws that are specific to the state of California – the following explores the latter.
The California DREAM Act
As stated above, the California DREAM Act allows immigrant students who do not have lawful status within the United States to seek and receive financial assistance to help pay for the cost of higher education. Those students who wish to apply and qualify for financial assistance must meet AB 540 criteria, including:
- Attendance of a California public or private high school for three or more years; and
- Graduation from a California public or private high school or equivalent (GED or California High School Proficiency Exam); and
- Filing of AB 540 Affidavit (California nonresident tuition exemption form) stating that the student has filed an application for legal immigration status or is planning to file such application in the near future.
If the criteria above is satisfied, the student may be able to qualify for the benefits provided under the California DREAM Act, which include:
- AB130 Scholarships. Students who meet AB540 criteria to seek AB130 scholarships, which are those scholarships that are not state-funded.
- AB131 Grants. Students can apply for AB131 grants, including state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, fee waivers, and community college fee waivers.
- DREAM Loans. Those who meet California DREAM Act criteria may also be eligible to receive a California DREAM Act loan, which provides up to $4,000 annually to students enrolled in a California State University and who are ineligible to qualify for federal loan assistance.
California DREAM Act Application Instructions
The DREAM Act can help those who do not have legal status attend and pay for higher education. However, the application process is intensive and specific, and applicants must fill out the application accurately and in full.
To begin, there are two ways to fill out and submit the application: online, or by printing off the application and mailing it in. The latter is not recommended; the former is faster and easier.
Upon beginning the application process, you should gather and prepare the following documents that you will need to submit with your application:
- Records of income, including W-2 forms;
- Income tax returns for you or/and your parents;
- Bank statements;
- Investment records;
- Business records; and
- Records of paid child support.
(As a note, some of the above items will be neither applicable to the applicant nor necessary to submit).
The application will ask you a number of questions – it is imperative that you answer these questions truthfully. Some questions you will be asked to answer include:
- Your name;
- Your address;
- Your SSN or ITIN;
- If you went through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process;
- Your birthday;
- Your student identification number;
- Your phone number;
- Your driver’s license number;
- Your citizenship status;
- Your marital status;
- Your alien registration number;
- The date that you became a resident of your current state;
- Your gender;
- Your parents’ education level;
- Your high school information, including certification/diploma obtained;
- The date that you expect to earn your bachelor’s degree by;
- Your grade level during the school year for which you are applying;
- The degree you are pursuing;
- Your income level and tax filing status; and
- Whether you have investments or assets (such as a business).
The above list is not complete; you will be asked multiple questions about your origin, finances and income, education, citizenship status, and more.
The Benefits of Working with a DREAM Act Immigration Attorney in Southern California
The DREAM Act provides a wonderful opportunity for certain non-citizen children to attend school and qualify for financial aid. If you do not have legal status, live in California, and are in need of financial assistance in order to attend a college or university, you should highly consider applying for assistance under the DREAM Act.
The experienced Los Angeles immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. can help you to understand the application process and file your application in a timely and accurate manner. To improve your chances of your application being approved and to learn more about the process, contact our law offices today for a free case consultation.