I’m a DACA Student, Now What?



Im scared to graduate high school. I dont know what will happen to me, Im a DACA student. – anonymous senior in high school.

Students are scared. Going to college may no longer be a possibility for thousands of students. President Trumps plan to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which was recently announced this week. As someone who works with students across the country, the changes announced this week are not only startling in terms of the estimated potential economic impact, but also immediate confusion.

What is DACA?

DACA is a program created under the Obama administration in 2012 allowing young people, known as Dreamers, who were brought into the country illegally to receive access to three main benefits. These include temporary protection from deportation, a Social Security card and drivers license, and permission to obtain a work permit.  

Why is DACA status so important for college access?

Once a student is granted DACA status, they can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Among the many forms required to pay for college, the FAFSA is the core one that opens doors to many other funds for college.

While a DACA student previously couldnt qualify for federal aid, they could qualify for other forms of financial aid such as private scholarships, aid offered by their state or college. With their work permit, they can get a job to help offset the costs of college. This includes work study at their college. Although citizenship is required to qualify for federal loans, DACA students can apply for private loans.

What do I need to know now?

Since the news of Trumps plans to end DACA, many people and students are left wondering how the program will end, and how its ending will affect Dreamers. Darius Amiri, an immigration attorney at Victory Law Group, LLP provides the below key next steps to pay attention to.

When do the changes go into effect?  

The DACA program will ultimately be cancelled after 6 months, no new applications would be granted in this time, and anyone who currently has work authorization granted by the DACA program would be able to continue working with such authorization until their term expires.

New DACA Applications?

No more. New initial DACA applications will not be accepted (or received) after September 5th. You must have applied and your application must have been received by September 5th to be considered for DACA as a new applicant. Any new initial applications not received by September 5th will not be considered.

Can I Continue Working in College?

Thousands of students maintain part time jobs and work study positions on and off campus during the year to reduce student loan burdens and gain valuable professional resume experience. If your DACA work permit expires before March 5, 2018, and you want to renew, Department of Homeland Security must receive your renewal application before October 5th, 2017 and wont be accepted afterwards.

You are not required to inform your employer that DACA has ended and you are able to continue working until your work permit expires.

What risks do I face as a DACA student?

After their DACA status expires, students run the risk of being deported for being in the country without the proper authorization. They would also lose the financial status the status provides including access to scholarships, which for many may likely mean the end of their time enrolled in higher education.

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