A coalition of Orange County Dream Act advocates will hold the first-annual Immigrant Youth Empowerment Forum at the University of California Irvine this Saturday. The forum consists of a series of workshops dedicated to educating immigrant high school students about how to apply for financial aid as they transition to college.
Johanna Perez, a fifth-year double major in Chicano/Latino studies and political science and forum organizer, said there are many resources available for high school students who might be unaware that they qualify for AB 540, which allows students who meet certain criteria to qualify for in-state tuition rates. The coalition includes the Orange County Dream Team, Dreams at UCI and other Dream Act proponents at neighboring community colleges.
In recent years, the Dream Team's Los Angeles chapter has conducted a similar forum at UCLA to ease the transition immigrant and undocumented students in Los Angeles make between high school and college.
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"While most students are applying for FAFSA (free application for federal student aid), undocumented students can't apply for it because they don't have a social security number," Perez said. "But with the California Dream Act, they have the opportunity to apply without that."
The California Dream Act's passage in August 2011 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria access to public financial aid and private scholarships for the first time. A 2008-2009 annual report from the UC Office of the President shows that UCI had approximately more than 100 potentially undocumented AB 540 eligible undergraduate students, making it the highest number among its sister universities. It ranks third in the total number of AB 540 undergraduate students.
The forum starts at 9 am and runs until 2 pm at UCI's Cross Cultural Center on campus Saturday, May 26. See you there!