Grads to Be Program
Together We Stand, Unafraid and Unapologetic
The Grads to Be Program at Cypress College is a safe space with supportive staff aimed at providing a variety of services and resources for undocumented students at Cypress College. Whether you are just starting your journey at Cypress or you have been a continuing student, we are here to help you flourish and cultivate a sense of belonging on campus. We are inclusive of every students’ experience and take a holistic approach in the services we provide. Our goal is to help you realize your academic, professional and personal success.
Program Services include:
- Financial Aid & Scholarship Assistance
- Specialized Counseling (Academic, Career, Personal)
- Peer Mentoring
- Legal Aid Assistance
- Mental Health Referrals
- Enrollment & Registration Assistance
- Workshops & Events
- Referrals to Campus & Community Resources
How do I qualify for Grads to Be?
We welcome all Cypress College undocumented students who would like to gain valuable resources and information. To apply, please complete the application by clicking the button below.
For questions, please visit our Virtual Front Counter on Cranium Café, give us a call at (714) 484-7368, or drop by our office in the Cypress College Complex, Room 201, 2nd floor.
T: (714) 484-7368
Grads to Be Program Legal Disclaimer
The Grads to Be Program is composed of staff that feels a strong connection and passion for social justice. We hope that the information provided by Grads to Be will give you a better understanding about certain policies and how they affect the life of an undocumented student and their family. However, all information provided is intended for informational purposes only and should NOT substitute legal advice from an accredited attorney.
This is why we take no responsibility if you rely on information based on the legal information provided by the Grads to Be Program. All information provided by the Grads to Be is compiled from different legal resources and thus we encourage you to seek legal advice, as your facts are unique and because each situation requires analysis from many different perspectives.
Although we try to be as timely and accurate as possible, please be aware that immigration is a constantly evolving area of law and that you should consult with an attorney to discuss your specific facts and determine if there have been any recent changes to immigration policies or laws that may affect you.
The Grads to Be Program assumes no liability for the use or interpretation of information contained herein. The information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.
Lastly, please be aware that the Grads to Be Program nor the use of legal information provided by the program creates an attorney-client relationship.
|Scholarship Name||Website for requirements/eligibility||Reward Amount|
|Chicana Latina Foundation||https://chicanalatina.org||$1,500|
|La Unidad Latina Foundation||www.mpowerfinancing.com||$1,000 to $3,000|
|Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity||http://eliewieselfoundation.org||$500 to $5,000|
|The Microsoft Tuition & Conference Scholarship||https://careers.microsoft.com/students/us/en/cascholarshipprogram|
|United Friends of the Children College Sponsorship Program for Transfer Students||http://sfsu.academicworks.com||$3,000 per year for up to five years|
|The Hispanic College Fund Scholarship Program (HSF)||https://www.hsf.net||$500 to $5,000|
|Dreams Scholarship Fund||www.salef.org|
|The Dream US||www.thedream.us||Amount varies by degree attaining|
|Golden Doors Scholars||www.goldendoorscholars.org|
|Mexican American Dream Scholarship||www.cofem.org||$500 to $1,000|
|Que Llueva Café Scholarship||www.ca-core.org|
|Latinos in Technology Scholarship||www.siliconvalleycf.org||Up to $30,000 paid over three years|
|Mapes Law Offices Scholarship||https://mapesbankruptcyattorneys.com||$1,000|
|Women in Aerospace Foundation||www.womeninaerospacefoundation.org||$2,000|
Additional list of Scholarship websites for Undocumented Students/DACA recipients (high school seniors, community college students, students at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States)
Current California State Policies Affecting Undocumented Students
What is AB 540?
California Assembly Bill passed into law in 2001 that states certain nonresident students are exempt from paying nonresident supplemental tuition, therefore those who qualify for AB540 both undocumented and U.S citizen students will be charged in-state tuition and fees.
What are the requirements?
- Attended a California high school for three or more academic years,
- Attended for three full-time years or the equivalent at any combination of the following:
- California high school
- California adult school (including non-credit courses offered by a California community college)
- California community college (maximum of two years of credit bearing courses can count toward this requirement)
- Three years of California high school coursework and three years of total attendance at a California elementary school, California secondary school, or any combination of the two.
- Meet one of the following requirements:
- Graduation from a California high school (or attainment of the equivalent i.e. GED or Certificate of High School Proficiency)
- Attainment of an associate degree from a California community college
- Fulfillment of minimum transfer requirements from a California community college to a UC or CSU campus
How do I apply?
You must complete the California Nonresident Exemption Request, which states that you meet all the requirements to qualify for AB 540 status and, if you are undocumented, are in the process of adjusting your immigration status (or will do so as soon as you are eligible).
What is AB 2000?
California Assembly bill passed into law in 2014 that was an expansion of AB 540 allowing a greater number of the undocumented population to qualify for in-state tuition.
What are the requirements?
- Eligibility is the same as AB 540.
California Dream Act (AB 130 & 131)
What is AB 130?
California Assembly bill signed into law in 2011 that allows AB 540/AB 2000 students to apply and receive scholarships acquired from non-state funds.
What is AB 131?
California bill signed into law in 2011 that allows AB 540/AB 2000 students to apply and receive financial aid from state funds, such as Cal Grant A & B Entitlement awards, Cal Grant C awards, institutional grants and community college fee waivers. It also allows students to apply for state programs such as EOPS at the Community College level and EOP at CSUs.
What are the requirements?
- Students eligible to apply for AB 540/AB 200 are eligible to apply for the California Dream Act.
- One of the following immigration statuses must pertain to students to be eligible for California Dream Act:
- U-Visa holder
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Dream Act Application Link
What is SB 1159?
California Senate Bill signed into law that has been effective since 2016 and allows those without a social security number to be considered for professional and vocational licenses in the 40 licensing boards under the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
What is SB 68?
California Senate bill passed into law in 2017 that expands on AB 540 to enable students to count years spent at a California Community College and adult education towards AB 540 eligibility. Additionally, SB 68 allows the completion of an associate degree or satisfaction of the minimum requirements to transfer to the University of California or California State University as sufficient for students to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid.
What is AB 60?
California law that allows California residents to apply and obtain a driver’s license regardless of immigration status as long as they meet the needed criteria.
What are the requirements?
- Proof of identity and California residency
- Fill out DL-44 application
- Pay application fee
- Pass written & behind the wheel tests
Current Federal Policies Affecting Undocumented Students
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
Executive order passed by the Obama administration in 2012, which offered temporary relief to eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the United States. This nationwide order protected those eligible from deportation and provided them with a work permit that was subject to renewal every two-years.
What are the requirements?
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
Any exemptions to eligibility requirements and application fee requirements?
- If an individual who is younger than 15 years of age is in the process of removal, has an order of removal or a voluntary departure order, and is not presently in an immigration detention, then the individual may be exempt from the age requirement criteria
- If an individual is under the age of 18 and is homeless or makes less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level and is in foster care or otherwise lacks familial support, then the individual may file to receive a fee exemption
- If an individual is not economically independent due to a serious illness and an income amounting to less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level or has a debt totaling more than $10,000 due to medical expenses for the individual or an immediate family member and has an income amounting to less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level, then the individual may file to receive a fee exemption
- Guidance for an exemption from the fee visit
For more information on DACA visit: www.uscis.gov
Additional information: http://www.ncsl.org/research/immigration/deferred-action.aspx
For frequently asked questions about DACA visit: www.uscis.gov/archive
Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) Health Care Reform
Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants (including DACA recipients) were excluded outright from federal health care reform. However, DACA recipients in California, who meet eligibility requirements, are now eligible for state-based health care programs, such as Medi-Cal.
Can I apply to Cypress College as an undocumented student?
Yes, all California Community Colleges are open to students regardless of their immigration status. Cypress College prides in being ranked as the 2020 Best California Community College, our success is derived exclusively from the success of our diverse student population.
How do I get a free legal consultation?
Cypress College has been selected by the CCCCO, the Foundation for California Community Colleges and the California Department of Social Services as a pilot school to provide free legal services to our undocumented students and neighboring communities. We have contracted with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), to provide free legal services to students. This new service will further enhance our Grads to Be Program for undocumented students by providing additional resources and support.
If you are a student needing immigration legal services, CHIRLA, can help. They serve students, faculty and staff to ensure their rights and protections. The CHIRLA immigration attorneys and Department of Justice representatives provide culturally competent, reliable expertise with sensitivity to the trauma our immigrant community regularly sustains.
To book a free confidential virtual appointment, go to https://legal.chirla.org/ and select Cypress College.
Where do I submit my AB 540 form and how often do I have to submit it?
AB 540 forms are to be submitted to the Admissions and Records office located in the Student Center, Building 19, 1st Floor. The AB 540 waiver form should be submitted when you initially apply to the college before you enroll in courses and will only need to be resubmitted if there is a break in enrollment.
Can I apply for Financial Aid?
Yes, undocumented students that meet the requirements for AB 540 can and should apply for financial aid under the California Dream Act Application, which opens yearly on October 1. Students with DACA need to input their social security number, if a student hasn’t been assigned a social security number the box should be left empty. Deadline for the California Dream Act is March 2 for Cal Grant.
What is the eligibility for applying to the California Dream Act?
Eligibility for the California Dream Act can be found here: https://dream.csac.ca.gov/application
Are there loans available undocumented students?
SB 1210 also known as the DREAM Loan Program provides eligible AB 540 undocumented students the option of taking out loans to cover the cost of a CSU or UC. Students who meet the AB 540/AB 2000 eligibility and are attending a CSU or a UC can benefit from this law.
For more information on the DREAM Loan Program click here: https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/tuition-financial-aid/types-of-aid/dream-loan-program.html
Can I continue to attend College/University even if I lose DACA?
Yes. Undocumented students with or without DACA, are welcome to our campus and should continue to pursue a higher education.
Will I have to wait until my parents or myself file taxes in order to complete the California Dream Act application?
Absolutely not, it is important to not miss any deadlines as this could affect eligibility. The application asks for tax information from the previous year, if taxes were not filed due to your parents or yourself not earning enough simply check the “Will not file” box on the application question.
Am I eligible for Financial Aid if my parents are undocumented? (U.S. citizens, permanent resident, eligible non-citizen only)
Yes, the student must be a legal U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen. It does not matter if the student’s parents are undocumented, under-documented, or foreign citizens.
Can apply for Financial Aid without tax returns?
You or your parents are not required to file a return – if you or your parents’ income is below the minimum amount to file taxes, you can choose the option “will not file” when you complete the California Dream Act. However, you will need to provide a W-2, 1099 or final pay stub received for that specific year.
More information on what is the minimum to file income taxes visit: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return
What should I do if I’ve already submitted a FAFSA before learning that I should have submitted a California Dream Act application?
You must first complete the California Dream Act Application and then complete the “Application Conversion Form G-55”. Please make a copy of this form for your records, send the original form (along with documentation to prove your identification) to the California Student Aid Commission and contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend to inform them of this error.
What is the California College Promise Grant?
The California College Promise Grant formerly known as the BOG Fee Waiver is offered by community colleges and permits enrollment fees to be waived if eligible.
I have been offered a Cal Grant, what now?
Students that have received a Cal Grant under the California Dream Act have to submit a GPA verification form. For any more questions please visit the Financial Aid Office located on the Cypress College Complex (Building 6), 1st Floor, Room 120 or call at (714) 484-7114.
Are “temporary” non-immigrant visa holders eligible to complete the California Dream Act application?
No, students with temporary non-immigrant visas are ineligible to submit a Dream Act application with the exception of the “U” visa.
Will Cypress College share my information with ICE or other federal agencies regarding my immigration status?
NOCCCD and Cypress College will not by any means release any personal student information, including any data related to immigration status, without judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law.
What is Selective Service and do I have to sign up for it?
If you are a male, 18 years of age or older, and have applied for the California Dream Act, you must register for Selective Service by visiting your local Post Office and filling out a paper application. Once you send this in processing takes about 4-6 weeks to approve, a confirmation card will then be sent. You should provide a copy of this card to Financial Aid along with a Selective Service Verification form since Financial Aid will not be available to you until this is done.
For more information on Selective Service: www.sss.gov
What is an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)?
The ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for certain resident and non-resident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN). ITINs are a nine-digit number beginning with the number “9” and formatted like an SSN (example: 9XX-7X-XXXX).
For more information: www.irs.gov
- Know Your Rights: You deserve to feel safe and empowered, no matter your immigration status. This link provides Know Your Rights information for individuals who may be stopped by police or other state agents (in multiple languages).
- The National Immigration Law Center website provides information, resources and news updates on important issues concerning the undocumented community.
- DACA updates from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- Immigrants Rising Updates and Resources
Links to Orange County Resources
Cypress College Complex, Room 201, 2nd Floor
T: (714) 484-7368
Spring and Fall Semesters:
Monday–Thursday 8 a.m.–6 p.m. (In-person and remote)
Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (remote only)
Monday–Thursday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.