No high school diploma? CA college aid may get easier

Currently, the California Dream Act allows undocumented students and others who do not have a Social Security number to apply for state financial aid. However, to be eligible, students must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent from a California school. This has created a barrier for students who, for various reasons, did not complete their high school education in the traditional manner.

The proposed changes would expand eligibility for the California Dream Act to include students who have not earned a high school diploma but have met alternative requirements, such as passing the GED or HiSET exams or completing a home schooling program. This would open the door to state financial aid for a group of students who are currently excluded, despite their demonstrated ability to succeed academically.

Expanding access to financial aid is a critical step in making higher education more equitable. Many students who do not have a traditional high school diploma face additional barriers to pursuing college, including financial ones. By making state aid more accessible, California can help level the playing field and ensure that all students, regardless of their educational background, have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

This move aligns with broader efforts in California to increase access to higher education and reduce barriers for underserved students. From implementing free community college to expanding transfer pathways, the state is taking bold steps to create a more inclusive and equitable higher education system. By rethinking what it means to be “college-ready” and opening up financial aid to a more diverse group of students, California is setting an example for other states to follow.

While there are still details to be worked out, the proposal to expand the California Dream Act is a promising development for students who have not followed the traditional educational path. By recognizing that potential for success comes in many forms, California is taking a major step towards creating a higher education system that truly serves all students.