UC system allots $5M in financial aid to illegals, legal immigrants not elligible

Illegal immigrants can receive up to $4,000 of financial aid annually and a maximum of $20,000 in loans.

The University of California (UC) announced Thursday in a press release that it has officially allotted the first $5 million in loans for distribution to illegal immigrant students through the California DREAM Act.

Approximately 3,500 illegal students in the UC system will be granted financial aid this year though the 2014 bill, which will serve students at all nine UC campuses.

UC president Janet Napolitano called the DREAM program an investment for the students, the state, and nation as a whole. Students residing in the U.S. illegally in California are eligible for state and UC aid, but not federal aid.

“This new program will reduce that gap,” Napolitano said in Thursday’s press release. “It will help even the playing field for undocumented students struggling to make ends meet.”

The program designating state and University aid for students who are undocumented was first introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-CA) in 2010, but funding was not made available until this year.

“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 Thursday’s press release.

Under the DREAM program, illegal immigrants can receive up to $4,000 of financial aid annually and a maximum of $20,000 in loans during the total amount of time spent in the UC system. Individual campuses can decide whether they want to lower the cap. The interest rate is 4.29 percent for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Kevin Sabo, a fourth-year Peace and Conflict Studies student at UC Berkeley and president of the University of California Student Association (UCSA), a group of UC student leaders who voted last year to divest from the United States, told UCLA’s student newspaper he thinks the program is crucial for illegal immigrant students because they are denied federal funding because of Republican influence in Congress.

“Congress with a majority of Republicans is not passing immigration reform,” Sabo told the Daily Bruin. “We should be realistic and not expect anything from that level.”

In addition to advocating for state and UC funding, the DREAM program has already established previous measures for illegal students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and other UC campuses, including paid summer internship opportunities and social justice activism resources for California immigrants, regardless of immigration status. Other programs across the UC system are providing similar resources and need-based scholarships designated to students who are undocumented.

International students who are in the U.S. legally are ineligible to receive university, state, or federal financial aid.

Alexis Moran, a second-year Hispanic student at UCLA, told Campus Reformthat by being exclusively available to illegal immigrants, these resources would not only hurt “law abiding citizens who are of all ethnicities including Hispanic, but they are also promoting and sponsoring people who are breaking the laws of our state and country.”

“It's not right to take this financial aid away from American citizens who need it and give it to illegal immigrants who don't contribute to paying taxes,” Moran told Campus Reform.

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