California Community Colleges chancellor urges immigrant students seeking financial aid not to be deterred by federal ‘public charge’ rules changes

SACRAMENTO – California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley on Monday sought to assure immigrant students receiving or applying for financial aid that educational benefits, including tuition assistance, will not be factored into so-called “public charge” rules changes put forth by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

“All students, regardless of their immigration status, are welcome in California’s 115 community colleges,” Oakley said. “We encourage students and prospective students to continue to apply for the financial aid that they may be eligible to receive and to pursue their educational goals at community college.”

The state Chancellor’s Office has received a number of inquiries regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s changes, set to go into effect Oct. 15, to the “public charge” rules governing a person’s admissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

A Chancellor’s Office legal advisory distributed to the system’s colleges notes that the department’s final rules include definitions of “public charge” and “public benefit” that significantly expand the impact of the public charge test, but do not reach educational benefits.

The advisory further notes that the department has stated, “Pell grants and student aid programs will not be considered in the public charge inadmissibility determination.”

Financial aid information, including information for undocumented students, is available at in English, Spanish and Chinese.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 115 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year.