Thesis

The impact of California Dream Act on undocumented student experiences

Undocumented students make up one of the most underserved minority groups in higher education. Some federal legislation hinders undocumented students from pursuing higher education due to their immigration status. However, many states are creating their own policies to make postsecondary education more accessible and affordable for undocumented students. The California DREAM Act has positively changed the lives of many undocumented students, as it provided financial resources to students in the pursuit of higher education. As more and more undocumented students attend college, it is imperative that educational leaders understand the challenges and barriers impacting students in higher education so they can properly meet the needs of this population. Although undocumented students qualified for state and institutional financial aid, due to the recent implementation of the California Dream Act, very little is known of their educational journey as they work toward their college degree. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences and challenges encountered by AB 540 undocumented college students after the implementation of the California DREAM Act as they work toward a college degree. This study will contribute to the awareness around this student population so their educational needs are better understood. This study used a qualitative method to further understand the participants’ educational journeys. The researcher conducted all face-to-face interviews at a location that was most comfortable and convenient for the participants. All interviews were audio-recorded with the consent of the participants. Four Latina AB 540 undocumented college students participated in this study. Findings from this study showed that all the participants continue to struggle with financial, academic, and legal challenges even after the implementation of the California DREAM Act. However, the California DREAM Act has significantly impacted all four participants and made pursuing higher education possible. Without the California DREAM Act, the majority of the participants would not attend college because they are unable to afford it. Thus, it is critical that higher education leaders develop specialized services and resources to meet the needs of undocumented students with regard to being successful in college.

Thesis (M.A., Education (Higher Education Leadership))--California State University, Sacramento, 2016.

Undocumented students make up one of the most underserved minority groups in higher education. Some federal legislation hinders undocumented students from pursuing higher education due to their immigration status. However, many states are creating their own policies to make postsecondary education more accessible and affordable for undocumented students. The California DREAM Act has positively changed the lives of many undocumented students, as it provided financial resources to students in the pursuit of higher education. As more and more undocumented students attend college, it is imperative that educational leaders understand the challenges and barriers impacting students in higher education so they can properly meet the needs of this population. Although undocumented students qualified for state and institutional financial aid, due to the recent implementation of the California Dream Act, very little is known of their educational journey as they work toward their college degree. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences and challenges encountered by AB 540 undocumented college students after the implementation of the California DREAM Act as they work toward a college degree. This study will contribute to the awareness around this student population so their educational needs are better understood. This study used a qualitative method to further understand the participants’ educational journeys. The researcher conducted all face-to-face interviews at a location that was most comfortable and convenient for the participants. All interviews were audio-recorded with the consent of the participants. Four Latina AB 540 undocumented college students participated in this study. Findings from this study showed that all the participants continue to struggle with financial, academic, and legal challenges even after the implementation of the California DREAM Act. However, the California DREAM Act has significantly impacted all four participants and made pursuing higher education possible. Without the California DREAM Act, the majority of the participants would not attend college because they are unable to afford it. Thus, it is critical that higher education leaders develop specialized services and resources to meet the needs of undocumented students with regard to being successful in college.

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