On Tuesday, the University of California, Berkeley announced that it received a $1 million gift from the Haas Fund to supplement state aid for undocumented students. This is considered the single largest donation for scholarships for DREAM Act eligible students. In California, undocumented youth who were brought to the US without proper documentation when they were under the age of 16 and have met in-state tuition and GPA requirements can apply for state financial aid (Cal grants). The California DREAM Act, which will allow these students to apply for state aid, takes effect on January 1, 2013.
There are approximately 200 undocumented students who attend UC Berkeley, and since these youth are ineligible for federal financial aid, they often attend part-time and take longer to complete degree programs because they are working.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau told the Los Angeles Times, “The individual stories of these students are so compelling. They are heroic. They encounter … challenges that very few of our students have to deal with,” in explaining how the grant will assist undocumented students at Cal.
Back in June, the Obama administration announced its deferred action program, which prevents undocumented youth who meet certain criteria from being deported and allows them to apply for work permits. So far only 53,000 applications for deferred action have been approved nationwide, despite there being some 800,000 children who would be able to qualify.