Renewing The Dream
Improving Financial Aid and College Affordability for California’s Undocumented Students
In 2021-22, only 14% of California’s estimated undocumented college students received financial aid.
The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) convened a work group of individuals from all segments of California’s higher education system and diverse higher education stakeholders to examine the unique challenges that undocumented students face in accessing financial aid, and generate concrete solutions for addressing those challenges.
California has long been a leader in advancing policies that help ensure the dream of a college education remains accessible and affordable to all students. This is particularly true for California’s undocumented student population enrolled in postsecondary education, which at close to 100,000 students, is the largest in the country. Their success is vital to Californian’s future.
Yet, for too many undocumented students, the dream of a college education remains challenging, and for some even unattainable. In 2021-22, only 29% to 30% of undocumented college students who applied for financial aid through the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) ultimately enrolled in school. Moreover, only 14% of California’s estimated undocumented student population in postsecondary education ultimately received state financial aid.
This report is the culmination of the work group’s comprehensive examination and offers higher education leaders, policymakers and campus practitioners targeted recommendations to better support undocumented students in successfully accessing financial aid and pursuing debt-free college in California.
The Commission hosted a webinar that featured a panel of stakeholders to discuss the roadblocks to financial aid for undocumented students, and key recommendations included in the Renewing the Dream report that can be addressed at the state, federal, and campus levels. Our speakers included:
- Marlene L. Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission
- Assembly member Mike Fong (AD-49), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee
- Charles Nies, Vice Chair of the California Student Aid Commission
- Michele Siqueiros, President of the Campaign for College Opportunity
- Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
- Leonardo Rodriguez, Student at the University of California, Berkeley
- Erik Ramirez, Director of Equity and Affinity Centers at Sacramento State University