UC Riverside receives thousands to assist undocumented students

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

UC Riverside will receive a one-time allocation of $512,000 from the University Office of the President (UCOP) to support undocumented students, according to campus officials.

Back in Oct. 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano began a systemwide visit to each of the 10 UC campuses amid controversy over past immigration policies enacted under her watch as former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and governor of Arizona. Just days before her visit to UCR on Nov. 4, Napolitano made a promise to allocate $5 million to provide financial aid and student services for UC students who do not have U.S. citizenship.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval stated that 1 percent of all undergraduates and graduates — approximately 210 students — make up this demographic at UC Riverside. He adds that currently all undocumented UCR students can qualify under AB 130 and AB 131, also known as the California DREAM Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011. The former allows these students to apply for scholarships and awards, while the latter allows them to participate in state financial aid programs such as Cal Grants.

“As far as the financial aid that’s made available, it’s going to help out in an area that is in need,” Sandoval said. “But it doesn’t provide them with funding in the form of federal work study or federal loans and so what this (funding) will do is provide undocumented students with an opportunity to secure much (assistance) for those purposes as well.”

Each UC will receive exactly $250,000 for student services, while the remaining funds will be distributed through financial aid, based on the number of undocumented students on each campus. For instance, campuses with larger populations of undocumented students will receive more funding than other ones.

In return, universities will be required to send in an expenditure plan, which will detail how the funds will be allocated on each respective campus, according to ASUCR President Sai Patadia.

“I plan to meet with a representative of the undocumented student population at UCR to understand what kind of academic and social support would most beneficial, and will strive to ensure that is where the allocation is implemented,” Patadia remarked. “This is a positive step to alleviate some challenges our undocumented student population encounters at UCR.”

Sandoval added that he has and will continue to hold frequent meetings with student advocates in order to find the best approach for distributing the overall funds.

“This allocation is a great first step,” said Ana Coria, a UCR undergraduate and president of the Providing Opportunities Dreams Education in Riverside (PODER), a student organization which provides financial assistance and campus resources for university students and members of the Riverside community who are undocumented.

“Although some undocumented students have access to financial aid from the (California) DREAM Act, there’s still a gap,” Coria expressed. “Part of the requirements from the allocation, is that each university must incorporate undocumented students’ input in regards to the allocation of funds.” Coria expressed gratitude to the campus student affairs office for holding ongoing dialogue about ways to further assist undocumented students.

 

 

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