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At the beginning of 2013, the second part of the California Dream Act took effect, allowing undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition to apply for state-funded financial aid. This fall, 7,218 undocumented students in California have received Cal Grants from the state totaling $31 million. NBC’s Katy Tur Reports.

“I did it all on my own”: CA undocumented students become eligible for state-funded financial aid

For the first time in California’s history, citizenship is not a prerequisite for state-funded financial aid. Undocumented students in California became eligible for public funding beginning this year, following the passage of Assembly Bill 131 in 2011. It functions as the second half of the California Dream Act and opens the door for undocumented students to receive Cal Grants, Chafee Grants, community college fee waivers and other state institutional grants this fall.

Opponents call this an “open-ended entitlement.” These critics say the bill will incentivize more undocumented minors and their parents to come to the U.S. illegally. Others argue an influx of undocumented students receiving state aid at California’s public colleges and universities will put more strain on the state’s coffers. But that controversy has not stemmed the flow of financial aid applications.

More than 29,000 undocumented students (both incoming college freshmen and first-year transfers from community colleges) submitted the new California Dream Act Application this year. Of those, 7,218 were awarded Cal Grants for the 2013-2014 school year. Learn more about four of those recipients at the Daily Nightly.

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