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Posted 9:00 am
December 5, 2013

Undocumented students get access to SF State’s EOP for the first time

For the first time, the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP), at SF State has begun to admit AB 540 criteria students and undocumented students into its program upon their admission to the University.

This school year, there are 3,000 SF State students enrolled in EOP, or 10 percent of the University’s population.

EOP helps recruit and retain low-income and first generation college students in the CSU system. This past August, the program at SF State accepted its first group of AB 540 criteria students. AB 540 passed in 2011 to allow individuals who have attended three or more years of high school in California to pay in-state tuition at any  higher education institution in California, even if they are not a legal resident of California, or students who left California after high school and returned later to attend a California college.

The change to allow AB 540 criteria students in the program was in reflection to the California Dream Act, which passed in 2011 to allow students that met AB 540 criteria to apply for scholarships and state funded financial aid, such as institutional grants, Cal Grants, Chafee Grants (grants for former foster youth) and community college fee waivers.

“After the passage of the California Dream Act in 2011, EOP directors statewide made the decision to allow students who meet both statewide EOP eligibly and the non-resident tuition fees exemption (AB 540) access to services EOP offers,” Director of EOP Oscar Gardea said.

SF State's Educational Opportunity Program Director Oscar Gardea poses for a portrait in the EOP office located in Student Services building room 201. This semester is the first time the program has accepted AB540 students into its curriculum. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

SF State’s Educational Opportunity Program Director Oscar Gardea poses for a portrait in the EOP office located in Student Services building room 201. This semester is the first time the program has accepted AB 540 students into its curriculum. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

There are currently 495 AB 540 students enrolled at SF State as of Fall 2013, according to the Office of Student Affairs. Only 55 of those students were admitted into the program because students are only eligible to enter EOP at the time of their admission to SF State. This makes the program’s outreach to community colleges and high schools crucial.

“We hope with the current and continued outreach efforts, and the Dream Act, more students will know to apply for access and academic support programs like EOP,” said Xochitl V. Sanchez-Zarama, associate director of EOP and director of Guardian Scholars Program. “Undocumented students are definitely underrepresented, and underserved, it only makes sense that EOP would accept AB 540 students, now,” said Sanchez-Zarama, “there is still some stigma about being undocumented, we know there are over 400 undocumented students on campus.”

“Overall, the number of undocumented and AB 540 students have grown in the past few years, and as more students become more aware of the opportunities available we will likely continue to see the numbers increase,” said Jo Volkert, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

President of IDEAS, a student group that advocates for undocumented students, Yadira Sanchez said, “It’s already hard enough being a college student, being an undocumented student makes it even harder, especially financially.”