AB540 Students Qualify for BOG Fee Waivers

Jonathan Caballeros, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Each year, nearly three million students throughout California will apply to college to better their lives through education, but one demographic continuously struggles to receive the aid it needs to continue on to higher education. This group is the AB540, undocumented students.

Karen Diaz is the vice president of VOICES (Voices Organizing Immigrant Communities for Educational Success) a club for pro-AB540 development through the use of fundraising and scholarship programs.

“The AB540 students have no identification, so they have to apply to school through an affidavit,” said Diaz.

An affidavit is a written declaration to an official that the student will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.

Due to the lack of residency or legal identification, the government cannot grant them any financial aid. However, former California Gov. Gray Davis signed the AB540 Bill on Oct. 12, 2001, to allow immigrant minors in-state tuition.

According to Greg Perkins, EOPS and student services counselor, the fee will be raised from $36 to $46 in the upcoming summer semester.

Many of these AB540 students live in low-income situations and usually take longer to finish their education due to the cost of tuition. The average yearly cost for tuition and books for an AB540 full-time student is $2,300, according to the GCC Net Price Calculator.

The GCC Net Price calculator is an application for students to approximate the cost of one year of studying at Glendale.

On Oct. 9, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California DREAM Act, allowing AB540 students to qualify for state financial aid, including the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver.

The bill does not help AB540 students apply for FAFSA, which grants eligible students federal financial aid.

The BOG would help AB540 students the same way it helps out students who are currently receiving the waiver by eliminating tuition costs, based on either qualifications for welfare or state mandated income ceilings.

“To apply for BOG you need a Social Security number, and since they have none, it’s not known exactly how they are going to get the BOG,” said Perkins.

Although the application isn’t open yet, the requirements for AB540 students to acquire the BOG remain the same.

AB540 students must have been in the US for five consecutive years and must have been in the country before they turned 16. AB540 students also must have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED or having passed the California High School Proficiency Exam.

Applicants must be between 12 and 25 years of age to apply.

Diaz also said that the students must be in college or the army for at least two years for the DREAM Act to go into effect, helping the students to gain citizenship or conditional permanent residency.

According to Diaz, the website to apply is still under construction and will be available in 2013. The first semester that AB540 students should see the grant is in spring 2013, according to Perkins.

More information on the BOG Fee Waiver availability can be found at the Financial Aid office in SF 110, or by speaking to Greg Perkins during a VOICES meeting, which are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Students can always check their Net Price Calculator by going to the GCC website, clicking the Quick Links to Financial Aid, then the Calculator and clicking the Net Price Calculator button.

The prices are based on the 2010-2011 academic year.