Fewer undocumented students in California are applying for college financial aid, likely because of deportation fears.
That's prompted an urgent message from college officials days before the March 2 Cal Grant deadline.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the Chancellor of the California Community College System, says financial aid applications under the California Dream Act are down about 40 percent from last year.
"What we fear will happen is that (undocumented students) will not have the financial resources to come to our colleges and universities," says Oakley.
"We want to ensure that students understand, first and foremost, that all students are welcome on our campus, whether they're documented or undocumented," says Oakley, "And those who are undocumented, and have access to the California Dream Act scholarship grants, that we want them to come forward."
Oakley says students' personal information are neither shared nor required at the federal level, addressing concerns from families that college systems might not commit to confidentiality long term.
"Matter of fact," says Oakley, "we don't even take most of their personal information. We want them to gain access to these funds so that they can come to our colleges and receive the kind of education that they need in order for them to be successful in our communities and to participate in our great state."
Last year at this time, the California Student Aid Commission had 34,000 Dream Act college aid applications. Right now, there are only 20,000 on file. Renewal of Cal Grants under the California Dream Act can be made after March 2nd.