How UCSB Normalized the FinAid Experience for Dream Act Students

At University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB), more than 800 undocumented students applied—and nearly 400 enrolled—in 2016. Higher education institutions throughout California are enjoying a surge of students for whom the California Dream Act helps make college dreams come true. It allows students who meet Assembly Bill 540 requirements to pay resident (in-state) tuition and to apply for state financial aid.

But the student finance journey for those undocumented children of immigrants, or “Dreamers,” presents challenges beyond the average process. Mike Miller, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services at UCSB, wanted a way to normalize the FinAid experience for his entire student body with a process that fits everyone.

“When I was first introduced to CampusLogic, I was excited to know StudentForms offered the paperless efficiency we really needed,” Miller says. “But I also wanted to ensure that it addressed the requirements of the Dream Act.”

UCSB Dreamers Need Mobile-Friendly Support

Dreamers, he notes, like many first-generation college applicants, are often students who most need the kind of mobile convenience, easy document-upload, and task-management tools

StudentFormsSM provides. Part of the CampusLogic student financial services platform, StudentForms brings mobile-friendly, student-focused financial aid processes to the entire campus.

Dreamer students need to provide specific documentation during the AB540 verification process, and a unique ISIR is generated, known as the Cal ISIR, Miller explains. In the beginning, those needs weren’t met by CampusLogic. Miller says he struggled with the idea of “rolling out this robust, awesome tool for our citizens and eligible noncitizen students, while our growing population of vulnerable Dreamer students was just going to have to stick with the old processes of mailing hard-copy documents back and forth.”

StudentForms’ Cal ISIR Addresses California Dream Act—Just in Time

Then, in late 2016, CampusLogic announced that customized forms, including a California-specific ISIR had been developed. It was just what UCSB needed—a student financial services platform that serves all students and enables staff to streamline processes for everyone. Soon after, the school experienced one of the fastest IT implementations in its history. 

It was as much a dream-come-true for Miller as it was for UCSB Dreamers. “I was pretty uncomfortable with the thought of offering two completely different experiences to students,” he says. “Thanks to CampusLogic, we don’t have to. We treat each student equally.”

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