How to Apply for the California Dream Act

How to Apply for the California Dream Act

College application season is here! That means that applying for financial aid is also here! When you are applying for financial aid, you will either apply for FAFSA or the California Dream Act! So you may be wondering, what is the difference between FAFSA and the CA Dream Act? They both help pay for your college education, but they are two separate applications. Keep reading to find out all the ins and outs of CA Dream Act! 

Background and Eligibility 

Q1. What is the California Dream Act? 

The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident students (U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens) who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants. In addition, the California Dream Act, allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition at any public college in California.

Q2. Who can apply for the California Dream Act?

Students who live in California and meet the eligibility requirements for a non-resident exemption, as well as students who have a U Visa or TPS status, can use the California Dream Act application (CADAA). Similarly, students without Social Security Numbers or students who have lost DACA status (or never applied for DACA), may still be eligible. The full language of the law and eligibility requirements is stated in CA Education Code 68130.5

Q3. What is the difference between the FAFSA and the California Dream Act application?

Students should only complete one of the applications (not both), according to the citizenship requirements below:

  1. You are eligible to complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov if you are a:
  • U.S Citizen 
  • Permanent Resident 
  • Eligible non-citizen 
  • T Visa holder
  1. You are eligible to complete the CADAA at https://dream.csac.ca.gov/ if you are:
  • Undocumented 
  • Have a valid or expired DACA 
  • U Visa holders 
  • Have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 2 | Page Revised 09/19 
  • Meet the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540

Note: If you have further questions, including how to ensure you are completing the correct financial aid application, you can visit the Immigrants Rising website and review the document titled, “FAFSA VS CA Dream Act: Apply to the Correct Financial Aid,” at https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/fafsa-vs-ca-dream-act-apply-to-the-correct-financial-aid-in-ca/ 

Q4. What are the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540?

Students must meet all four (4) requirements to be eligible:

  1. Time and coursework requirements
  • High school attendance in California for three or more years, OR 
  • Attainment of credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school coursework and a total of three or more years of attendance in California elementary schools, California secondary schools, or a combination of those schools. OR 
  • Attainment of credits earned at a California adult school, OR 
  • Credits earned at a California Community College, OR 
  • A combination of the schools listed above 
  1. Degree or unit requirements (completion of either of the following):
  • Graduation from a California high school or the equivalent (GED, HiSET, TASC) •
  • Attainment of an Associate degree from a California Community College 
  • Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements from a California Community College to a UC or CSU campus
  1. Register or enroll in an accredited and qualifying California college or university

For a list of Cal Grant eligible schools, please visit: https://webutil.csac.ca.gov/CalGrant_Inst/CalGrantInstSearch.aspx 

  1. Submit a signed “Non-Resident Exemption” Request

Some schools will refer to this document as an “AB 540 affidavit.” This form states that you meet all the requirements to qualify for a non-resident exemption under AB 540 and, if you are undocumented, that you are in the process of legalizing your immigration status (or will do so as soon as you are eligible). 

Please contact the Residency Deputy or the Admissions and Records office at your college for information on how to complete your non-resident exemption form and to determine if supporting documentation is needed. You should complete this form upon accepting an offer to attend a college in California and at least one semester or quarter before you are scheduled to start classes. 

Q5. What should I do if I’ve already submitted a FAFSA before learning that I should have submitted a CADAA?

You must first complete the CADAA and then complete the “Application Conversion Form G-55” which can be obtained at: https://www.csac.ca.gov/post/application-conversion-form Please make a copy of this form for your records, send the original form (along with documentation to prove your identification) to the Commission and contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend to inform them of this error.

*For a full copy of of the California Dream Act FAQs for Students and Parents please go to this link: CA Dream Act FAQ

For a checklist of applying  for the CA Dream Act go here: CA Dream Act and Cal Grant Checklist 

For a checklist of applying for a Cal Grant through the CA Dream Act go here: CA Dream Act and Cal Grant Checklist

Sources: CSAC and Immigrants Rising

Campus Resources for Undocumented Students

Campus Resources for Undocumented Students

While California has established statewide programs so undocumented students can safely apply for financial aid, such as California Dream Act, there is a lack of coordination and consistency in how these and other resources are made available to students. The resources vary widely across campuses, and can even be different within the same segment of higher education. This can often confuse or misinform students about critical information. Colleges and universities need to ensure they provide consistent and adequate information and support services for undocumented students that are readily available on their campuses.

The interactive map below serves as a guide to find information about campus centers for undocumented students, support programs, website address with relevant information, and contact information of undocumented allies/liaisons. This information is critical to improve access and success for undocumented students in higher education. 

California Undocumented Student Resources Map

Source: Campaign for College Opportunity and CA Undocumented HIgher-Ed Coalition

 

Applying to Cal State Universities: Everything You Need to Know

Applying to Cal State Universities: Everything You Need to Know

Application season is here again! Below are several Cal State Apply updates as well as some helpful reminders to assist students.

CSU Week is October 5th – 9thThe CSU Chancellor’s Office and all 23 campuses are excited to provide an alternative to in-person college fairs for students and families. Each campus will present a short live session to provide a campus overview, information about the admission process and a question and answer portion. If students are not able to attend, all sessions will be recorded. You can download a postcard and students can register on the CSU Week site.

The priority application period for the Fall 2021 semester opens on Thursday, October 1, 2020, and closes on Friday, December 4, 2020. We encourage you to apply early.

Validation is Here! Students are highly encouraged to find their high school, so they do not need to manually enter their high school coursework, complete a-g matching and ensure validation is properly applied. Students can now search for their high school using the CEEB code.

Cal State Apply Submission Review! The application has been updated with a Submission Review page. The page provides key academic and application information that students may need to review. Please review this information carefully and correct any issues prior to submission.

SAT and ACT Test Scores

  • The CSU has temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission purposes. To find more information on the admission requirements for Fall 2021 please visit the First-time Freshman Guidance.
  • If SAT and ACT test scores are submitted, the CSU will use scores for placement in English and mathematics courses. Please visit the CSU Student Success site for additional information on placement. If a student has not taken a test, they can opt out of the Standardized Tests section of Cal State Apply.

Cal State Apply Helpful Links

All Cal State Apply resources have been updated and posted to the Counselor Resource site under First-time Freshman Section. Here are some helpful ones, visit this site for more. There are a lot of resources available for counselors, but some are quite helpful for students. 

CSU Video and Campus Virtual Tour Links

For a new CSU overview video and virtual tours of all 23 campuses go here.  

Reminders & Clarifications

College-Dual Enrollment Coursework – If you have taken college classes while in high school on your own or through a formal dual enrollment program, you should specify on the application that you are graduating high school senior with college credit. Any college courses taken that will appear on a college transcript should be reported on the College Coursework page. For more information please see the College-Dual Enrollment Coursework Guidance.

Help students not miss the deadline to apply for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Some but not all campuses have a deadline of December 4, 2020 for EOP applicants. Even if you have submitted their application to the CSU, you can still go back into Cal State Apply to indicate you are interested in applying for EOP if you haven’t missed the campus’s deadline. To check the deadline for the campus(es), go to EOP Admission by Term (also available as a PDF). Also, at least one of the recommendations must be from someone who knows your academic history, such as a teacher or counselor. The other recommendation can be from an individual who can comment about your potential to succeed in college but cannot be the student or a family member.

DACA, undocumented or AB540 students should enter “None” as their citizenship status. Under “Residency,” they should select “California” as their state of residency if they consider California their home.

There have been changes in impaction on both campuses and degree programs for the 2021-22 academic year. Impaction means that there are more qualified applicants for a program or campus than can be accommodated. For the most current information, visit the Impaction center on Calstate.edu.

This resource was compiled with information from the CSU Office of the Chancellor

Get Educated: How to Fill Out the FAFSA

Get Educated: How to Fill Out the FAFSA

Happy October 1st! FAFSA opens October 1st, 2020, and closes March 2nd, 2021.

The FAFSA application process can be confusing and a bit scary, but it is important that you fill it out as soon as possible! Many families have suffered economically during the coronavirus pandemic and may have to take extra steps to qualify for maximum help. 

Please make sure you apply as early as possible! Many families have suffered economically during the coronavirus pandemic and may have to take extra steps to qualify for maximum help. 

According to a New York Times article, “completing the form early is always a good idea in order to meet varying deadlines for scholarships. But this year, college students or prospective applicants who have been affected by the pandemic may need to submit extra documents to their colleges.

The more you know about the FAFSA application process, the more you can help others. 

Download our easy-to-follow guide that clearly explains the FAFSA process and answers the most common questions from low-income students and parents.

Guide provided by:

Form Your Future and National College Access Network

Avoid Common Mistakes on the UC Applications

Avoid Common Mistakes on the UC Applications

Congratulations on considering applying to the University of California!  Tens of thousands of students apply to the UCs each year (approximately 170,000 first-time freshmen applied last fall), so the UC admissions is definitely a large-scale process. Because so many applications are submitted, it can be difficult to adjust your application information after submission. Getting it right the first time will ensure that your applications are fully processed and that each school has the correct information on file for you from the start.

While many parts of the UC application are self-explanatory or provide clarifying instructions, some tend to trip up students. Something as simple as mistyping your date of birth or accidentally clicking that you are not a California resident can cause a headache down the line in order to correct this information. This guide is intended to share common mistakes that we see students make each year, so hopefully, you can avoid them when applying to the UCs.

The following “tips” are organized in the order that they appear on the application.  You can follow along with this guide as you fill out your application, or use it to double-check your responses before you submit. If and when you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact your high school academic advisor or counselor, or UC Admissions at ucinfo@applyucsupport.net or (800) 207-1710.

About You: “Citizenship and Residency” Section

This section is used in a variety of ways, including determining California residency for tuition purposes.  California residents have cheaper tuition than non-California residents, so you want to make sure that you complete this section accurately.

  • Question: “What is your country of citizenship?” 
    • Tip: Undocumented and DACA students should select “No selection”.  Without doing this, they may be marked as an international student, not a California resident.

About You: “Demographics” Section

  • Question: “Which of the following groups best describes your racial background”
    • Tip: Often, Latinx students ask about what to select here, as some students feel that the options do not reflect their identity.  The demographic section is optional, so students do not have to mark a selection here if there is not one that they identify with.

The race and ethnicity categories on the UC application are connected to the categories used by the US Department of Education and the US Census, and may not directly reflect how a student self-identifies.

About You: “Your Household” Section

  • Question: “What was the total income earned in 2019 by your parents or legal guardians?”
    • Tip:  If you don’t have access to your family’s taxes, or aren’t sure of the exact number here, you can use your best estimate. This number will be used to help calculate your eligibility for UC application fee waivers, but will not be used for financial aid (you will have to complete a FAFSA or CA Dream Act application to apply for financial aid).

If you have access to your parent/guardian’s 2019 taxes, you can use the “Total income” number, which is line 7b on the 2019 1040 tax form.

  • Question: “How many people were supported by this income?”
    • Tip: This question can be easily answered by finding the household size on the 2019 tax forms.  To do that, add up the total number of people who filed the taxes (listed at the top of the 1040 form) as well as the total number of people listed as dependents.  For example, if I come from a single-parent household, and my parent filed taxes and then claimed me and my 3 siblings as “dependents,” we would answer “5” to this question.  

If you don’t have your tax forms, you can answer this question just by adding all of the people supported by the income you listed, including yourself.  This number does not have to be the same as the number of people living in your home- you should not include people living with you who are not supported by your parent/guardian’s income.

About You: “Parent Information” Section

  • Tip: You only have to include one parent/guardian/person who looks after you here. While you should include all parents/guardians that apply to you, if you live in a single-parent household, for example, you can complete this question with just one parent/guardian.  If you are independent and do not have a parent/guardian, you can select “Other” and then describe who looks after you.

Campuses and Majors: “Choose Majors” Section

  • Tip: Some UC campuses offer “alternate major” options, and like the application says, if you are not accepted into your first-choice major, you can be considered for your alternate major if you select one on your application.  When choosing majors, it is important to consider “impaction,” which is when more qualified people apply than there are spaces available.  Impacted majors can be more selective than non-impacted majors, and could mean that a “likely” school becomes more of a “target” or “reach” for you simply because the major you are applying to is more selective.  

If you have questions about what major to choose, you should talk to your high school counselor, or you can call or email the UC admission office or major department to get more information.  For example, if I was interested in nursing at UCLA, but am unsure whether to apply to the nursing major because it is impacted, I could talk to my counselor, the UCLA admissions office, or the UCLA nursing department.

Academic History Section

When you apply to the UC, your GPA is recalculated to include your A-G classes. It is important that you provide the correct information so that your GPA can be calculated correctly.  We advise having a copy of your transcript available while you fill this out.  If you have any questions about how to complete this section, you should contact your high school counselor or academic advisor.

  • Question: “Add high school” or “Add college”
    • Tip: When adding schools if your school does not appear with your first search, you can try different spellings or parts of the name.  Sometimes this can help you find your school as it appears in the UC application system.  Additionally, you can use the “school code” to help locate your school.  This can be found by searching for “your school + school code” online.  These codes are sometimes called “CEEB codes” or “college codes.”
  • Question: “What is this school’s term system?”
    • Tip: Sometimes this can be confusing for students, especially if you receive mid-term grades alongside final grades.  If you are unsure of your school’s term system, you should check with your high school academic advisor or counselor.
  • Question: “Enter courses & grades”
    • Tip: During the course-entry sections, make sure that you type the courses exactly as they appear on your transcript.  Additionally, use the “Honors Codes” and “Grades Codes” at the top right of each section to help you report your grades for each grading period.  

For 11th grade, you will have options for “Credit (CR),” “No Credit (NC),” Pass (PS),” and “No Pass (NP)” to represent grades during the Spring.  For courses that only meet for part of the year, you can put “NO” for the parts of the year when you did not have that course.  For courses during the current grading period, you can put “IP” for “In Progress.”  For future grading periods, you can put “PL” for “Planned.”

  • Question: “California State Student ID”
    • Tip: You can complete this section without adding this number.  That said, you should be able to find it on your transcript, or can ask your high school counselor or academic advisor if you need help finding it.
  • Question: “Additional comments”
    • Tip: This section can help you add value to your application, especially if there is something important about your academic record that is not shared elsewhere.  That said, you do not have to complete this question.  

Some questions to consider when deciding whether to complete this section are: Were there any courses that I was unable to take for a reason out of my control (i.e. prevented by school policy or administrators, lack of transportation to a class after regular school hours, course not offered at your school, etc.)? Does my transcript accurately reflect my academic ability?  Were their obstacles out of my control that negatively affected my academic performance?

Test Scores Section

  • Question: “Do you want to report any ACT or SAT test scores?”
    • Tip: Because of COVID-19 and a recent lawsuit, the UC campuses have adjusted their SAT/ACT testing requirements.  All UC campuses other than UCSD, UCLA, and UC Merced will not consider SAT/ACT testing for admission. UCSD, UCLA, and UC Merced will be test-optional, so you can submit your scores if you choose, but it will not hurt you if you do not submit test scores.

Activities & Awards Section

  • Question: “Add activities & awards”
    • Tip: To fill out this section, we suggest that you start by considering how you spend your time, in and out of school.  This can include formal activities like clubs, teams, work, volunteer experiences, etc. as well as more informal or self-directed activities, like caring for younger siblings, art or music, language self-study, etc.  It can also be helpful to partner with a friend or family member to brainstorm activities/awards- they may be able to remind you of things you leave out.

When adding activities and awards, there may be some activities that can fit in multiple spaces.  For example, if you are a Boys and Girls Club member, but also volunteer as a tutor for elementary school students at your Boys and Girls Club, this activity could fit as both an extracurricular activity and community service activity.  It is okay to add activities like this in multiple categories, especially if it will give you the opportunity to provide a more in-depth description of your different roles.

Some students have trouble estimating their hours/week and weeks/year for their activities.  It can be helpful to know the total number of weeks in your school year (often 36 weeks/year for schools with Monday-Friday school weeks in CA) as well as the total number of weeks in a year (52).  If the hours of involvement vary throughout the year, we sometimes suggest calculating the hours spent during a busy week and those spent during a non-busy week and then averaging those to get a more accurate number for estimated hours/week.

Before you start adding descriptions, we HIGHLY encourage you to draft them in a separate document.  Then, you can edit and finalize your descriptions there without worrying about whether they will be saved in the UC application (sometimes the application crashes, and that could mean a lot of lost work if you write directly in the application…).  You can also reuse these descriptions in the future for other applications, like the Common App or scholarship applications.

Scholarships & Programs Section

Personal Insight Section

  • Question: “Personal insight questions”
    • Tip: When completing this section, know that all of the 8 personal insight prompts are considered equally- there is no “best” prompt to choose.  The most important thing is to select prompts that allow you to share important aspects of yourself that add value to the other parts of your application (your transcript, activity list, etc.). 

As with the activities and awards section, we highly recommend that you type these responses in a separate document first, and then copy and paste your final versions into your application.  

  • Question: “Additional comments”
    • Tip: Often students aren’t quite sure how to use this section, or if they should use it at all.  After completing the rest of your application, if you feel that it adequately represents who you are, then you may not need to add anything in this section.  If instead, you feel that there is something about you and your story that has not been shared, the additional comments section is a great space to add that extra information.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be a great space to provide context to your COVID-19 experience, especially if you believe that it is relevant to your college application. 

Review and Submit Section

  • Application Fees
    • Tip: If you qualify for fee waivers to pay for your application fees, these will be visible here.  Students can only use up to 4 fee waivers, so even if you qualify for 4 UC fee waivers and also have 2 College Board fee waivers, you can only use 4 in total to pay for the UC applications.

If you do not qualify for UC fee waivers but you do have 2 College Board fee waivers, you can pay by mail, and can include your College Board fee waivers via mail, along with a check if you apply to more campuses.  If you did not receive UC fee waivers but believe that you should be eligible for them, you can first check your household income section to make sure your information is correct, and can then apply for fee waivers using the instructions in the “Review and Submit” section.  Typically, the fee waiver application can take 7-10 days to be processed by the UC.

By: Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano and Let’s Go To College CA

Source: https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/apply-now.html