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Counseling Immigrant Students. Lourdes Peña-Alanis, CSU Dominguez Hills Frank Colon, CSU Northridge. Immigrant/First Generation Students. How can we assess what we do as counselors? Is technology an obstacle, or are students more technologically advanced than we acknowledge?  

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counseling immigrant students

Counseling Immigrant Students

Lourdes Peña-Alanis, CSU Dominguez Hills

Frank Colon, CSU Northridge


Immigrant/First Generation Students

  • How can we assess what we do as counselors?
  • Is technology an obstacle, or are students more technologically advanced than we acknowledge?  
  • What are some assumptions? 
  • How do our beliefs systems influence our advising?
  • How can we work as partners, the CSU and Counselor in assisting these students?

Perceptions and


  • Poorer academic and social preparation
  • Greater financial constraints
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Insufficient parental support
  • Diminished access to higher education opportunities – (ESL)
  • Cultural barriers
  • College survival and success

2002-2003 California graduates with UC/CSU required courses

% of Grads% with UC/CSU courses

Asian Pacific Islander 10.4% 56%

Filipino 3.2% 43.7%

White 42.4% 39%

African American 7.3% 24.3%

Multiple/No Response 0.88% 24.1%

American Indian 0.91% 23%

Latino 34.2% 21.5%

Source: California Department of Education

fall 2003 california high school total number enrolled to a uc csu
Fall 2003 California High School total number enrolled to a UC/CSU

% enrolled to UC/CSU

African American 3% / 6%

American Indian .5% /.5%

Asian/Pacific Islander 32% / 13%

Filipino 5% / 5%

Latino 14% / 23%

Multiple/No Response 6% / 8%

White 35% / 38%

Source: California Post secondary Education Commission


Advising Immigrant /First-Generation College Student

  • Communication – One size does not fit all
  • Students need more academic and personal guidance
  • Need to communicate with Parents/Guardians
  • Need to be a resource (testing, financial aid, AB-540) etc.)
  • Create intensive counseling support groups and an intensive orientation program aimed directly at those college students who receive less parental support.
immigrant students california assembly bill ab 540
Immigrant Students & California Assembly Bill AB-540
  • What is AB 540?
  • Who is eligible for AB 540?
  • Why is AB 540 important?
  • Where is AB 540 being implemented?
  • What is the new legislation concerning AB 540
what is ab 540
Assembly Bill 540 is a California law that allows undocumented students who meet specified requirements to pay in-state fees (tuition) for California’s public colleges and universities.

These include:

California Community College

University of California

California State University

What is AB 540?

Who is eligible for AB 540?

An undocumented/immigrant student in California who attended a minimum of 3 years of high school in California and is planning on attending any California public college or university systems.

  • California Community College
  • University of California
  • California State University
ab 540 requirements
AB 540 Requirements

Students must also meet the requirements* established in the bill:

  • The student must attend high school in California for three or more years.
  • The student must graduate from a California high school with a diploma or GED equivalent.
  • The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating the he or she will file an application with the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to obtain legal permanent residency as soon as he or she is eligible.
why is ab 540 important
Why is AB 540 important?
  • Before this law, undocumented students in California paid out-of-state fees (tuition).
  • This law gives California’s undocumented students affordable access to public systems of higher education, allowing them to instate California tuition and fees.

Example: CSU Northridge:

For 12 units+ CA Residents undergraduate tuition &fees = $ 2,800

Non-residents pay $339.00 per unit. 24 units X $339 = $8,000+

important information to know about ab 540
Important information to Know about AB-540
  • The law requires state colleges and universities to keep students’ information confidential. Students’ immigration status will not be reported to the INS
  • Financial Aid is NOTavailable for undocumented students.
  • This law does NOTestablish state residency.
most commonly asked questions
Most commonly asked questions
  • I am an undocumented student that attended high School in Oregon for two years and completed my junior and senior year in California. Do I qualify to pay in-state tuition under this new law?
  • What is the cost difference between in-state vs. out-of-state tuition?
  • My parents are permanent residents of the state and the INS is currently processing my application. Do I qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid?
  • I am a student with a valid student visa. Am I exempt from paying out- of-state tuition under this new law?
  • What is the difference between a non-immigrant and an immigrant as defined by federal law?
advocacy strategies
Advocacy Strategies
  • Have a presentation for students and parents at your high school or agency that deals with immigration status as it relates to higher education.
  • Have scholarship information available in your college/career center for students who are undocumented.
  • Have the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request Form available when passing out CSU, CC, and UC applications.
strategies for success
Strategies for Success
  • Provide access to support groups, other organizations and activities
  • Encourage campus involvement
  • Assess student’s needs
  • Ensure participation in appropriate program activities
  • Provide career, personal, and academic counseling
  • Expose students to cultural programs
  • Initiate and explain tutorial services
  • Provide assistance with financial aid, in home language if available
  • Encourage mentorship programs (peers, or professionals)
  • Provide a welcoming and friendly environment
questions answers
Questions & Answers

Frank Colon:

(818) 384-4804

Lourdes Peña-Alanis

(310) 243-3699

new legislation
New Legislation
  • Dream Act S.1545 (O. Hatch, R-UT and R. Durbin D-IL)
  • Student Adjustment Act. HR 1684 (Cannon, R-UT)
new legislation s 1545 the dream 2003
New Legislation: S 1545 “The Dream 2003”

Restore State Option to Provide In-State Tuition Benefit:

DREAM 2003 would repeal section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which discourages states from providing in-state tuition or other higher education benefits without regard to immigration status.


New Legislation: S 1545 “The Dream 2003” cont.

Who Qualifies for Legal Residency:

Under DREAM 2003, most students of good moral character who came to the U.S. before they were sixteen years old and at least five years before the date of the bill's enactment would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from high school, or being awarded a general equivalency diploma (GED).

the dream 2003 cont d
“The Dream 2003” (cont’d)

Conditional Permanent Resident Status:

Qualifying students would be granted conditional permanent resident status, awarded for a limited period of time-6 years. Students with conditional permanent resident status would be able to work, drive, go to school, and otherwise participate normally in day-to-day activities on the same terms as other Americans, except that they would not be able to travel abroad for lengthy periods. Time spent by young people in conditional permanent resident status would count towards the residency requirements for naturalization to U.S. citizenship.

the dream 2003 cont d24
“The Dream 2003” (cont’d)
  • Requirements to Lift the Condition and Obtain Regular Lawful Permanent Resident Status:

At the end of the conditional period, regular lawful permanent resident status would be granted if, during the conditional period, the immigrant had maintained good moral character, avoided lengthy trips abroad, and met at least one of the following three criteria:

1. Graduated from a 2-year college or a vocational college that meets certain criteria, or studied for at least 2 years towards a bachelor's or a higher degree; or

2. Served in the U.S. armed forces for at least 2 years; or

3. Performed at least 910 hours of volunteer community service.

new legislation h r 1684 student adjustment act
New Legislation: H.R. 1684 “Student Adjustment Act”
  • Immigration Relief for Long-term Resident Students: SAA will permit students enrolled in 7th grade or above at the time of enactment who have good moral conduct and have lived in the U.S. for five years or more the opportunity to obtain immigration relief, known as cancellation of removal, so that they can go to college and eventually become U.S. citizens.
  • Higher Education Benefits for Student Adjustment Act Applicants: SAA will ensure that students who are applying for immigration relief under SAA may obtain Pell grants and student loans in the same basis as other students while their application for adjustment of immigration status is being processed.
student adjustment act cont d
“Student Adjustment Act” (cont’d)
  • Restoration of State Right to Determine Residency for Higher Education Benefits: SAA repeals Section 505 of the “Illegal” Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). Repeal of section 505 would restore to the state the right to determine their own residency regulations.