UC to provide financial aid for undocumented students excluded from federal stimulus bill

Cesar E. Chavez Student Center
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The UC and CSU systems will give emergency funds to undocumented students, who were excluded from the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which allowed qualifying citizens to receive national stimulus checks.

UC Berkeley students who qualify under the California Dream Act, which includes those not protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will receive an amount equivalent to the stimulus checks distributed through a financial aid check by mail or direct deposit. UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride said the money will come from institutional funding provided by the California Dream Act, and each campus can support the funding with additional financial aid as it desires.

“UC will continue to convey and advocate for the University’s priorities to be included in future stimulus bills to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and community at large regardless of their immigration status,” McBride said in an email.

According to McBride, there are about 4,000 undocumented students who are eligible for state and university financial aid support. Though the amount of funding depends on the needs of each individual student, the average awards have been roughly aligned with monthly food and housing expenses, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

Adjusting to online classes has been difficult for many students, but undocumented students are experiencing exacerbating stress caused by the need to provide for their families and fear of deportation, according to Gilmore.

“Undocumented young people in our community are being excluded while also supporting their families, many of whom have seen people losing their jobs, or going without health care,” said Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director of United We Dream, in a press release.

Qualifying students can also submit a request for extra aid, in addition to the state and UC system’s options, online through the UC Berkeley COVID-19 Student Relief Funds, according to Gilmore. The aid money will assist undocumented students in addressing food, housing, caretaking and medical insecurities, as well as in accessing technology.

Support for undocumented students is also available through on-campus organizations such as the Undocumented Student Program, which provides dedicated mental health counselors, immigration legal support, emergency grants and academic counselors to support students, according to Gilmore.

“Students’ ability to continue their education matters greatly to our national future,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, in a press release. “We are all connected, and immigrant students and their families are critical to our ability to fight this virus and to come out a stronger and more united nation.”

Contact Dina Katgara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dinakatgara.