California Community College Chancellor urges undocumented students to apply for financial aid


Photo courtesy of Christine und Hagen Graf (CC BY 2.0)

The low number of applications for financial aid concerned the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office on a Jan. 26 conference call.

“We are seeing that FAFSA applications are down 12% this year compared to [the] last,” Chancellor Eloy Oakley said. “And California Dream Act applications are down by 19%.”

Documented students are eligible to receive financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Undocumented students can get state-funded aid through the California Dream Act.

Oakley said that the decrease in Dream Act applications is “especially concerning” because undocumented students who miss the March 2 deadline miss their last opportunity for financial aid.

The decrease in application numbers does not match the $290 million federal funding that California community colleges received through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, much of which has been designated for student aid.

“These funds have been distributed to the colleges directly,” Oakley said. “They’re on college campuses as we speak.”

These campuses will hopefully be partially open by summer, Oakley added, though decisions will be made at the local level.

“We see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel,” Oakley said. “We are very hopeful that with the vaccine rolling out and with the right precautions in place, we can see some in-person instruction as early as summer and hopefully no later than fall.”

De Anza Student Body President Katelyn Pan said that resuming in-person learning will improve the health of the De Anza College community.

“Being online has been really detrimental to students’ mental health,” said Pan, a 19-year-old business major. “It’s really affected students’ ability to do well and stay motivated.”

DASB Finance Chair Grace Lim said that going in person should not be rushed and campuses should delay reopening until they achieve herd immunity.

“I personally do not struggle with online learning,” said Lim, 17, applied mathematics major. “But I am hopeful that we can get enough of the community vaccinated by fall.”

The timeline to resume in-person learning at De Anza is subject to change and decisions are made in accordance with Santa Clara County guidelines.