U.S. Law Center

A college education is possible for undocumented students

Better opportunities and access to education are just a few of the reasons why many immigrant families choose to relocate to Riverside and Orange Counties. Going to school is an important step toward success for many people. However, for those students who are undocumented, attending college may seem like an unattainable goal. There are some programs in place in California that allow those without the proper paperwork to still benefit from a college education.

Because California is home to so many undocumented immigrants, its policies regarding higher education are more lenient than in other states. According to Newsweek, federal law requires public schools to allow all students to attend grades K through 12, regardless of their immigration status. No such law exists for colleges and each state is able to make its own policy in this regard.

The majority of states have no official policy. Since applicants to college are not required to provide a social security number or disclose their immigration status, undocumented students can attend schools in those states. However, many may not be able to afford the tuition since they will be considered international or out-of-state students. A handful states have outright barred universities from accepting students who do not have the proper paperwork.

California not only allows undocumented students to attend college, but they are also eligible to pay in-state tuition rates. This makes access to education much easier for the undocumented living in California. In addition, California has its own legislation called the Dream Act, which allows certain students without papers to apply for financial aid. According to the California Student Aid Commission, students can apply for aid as long as they meet certain requirements such as graduating from a California high school or passing an equivalency test. Any information submitted under the Dream Act is subject to state privacy laws and is not obtainable by the federal government so those who apply are not in danger of having their status questioned.

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