AB 540 Coalition
The College Dream Initiative
Private Colleges/Universities

What to expect at private colleges
as an AB 540 student...

Every private college has the ability to make its own rules and restrictions about admissions. As a result, many private colleges have decided to treat all applicants exactly the same- with little distinction between undocumented and documented students.

PROS about PRIVATE COLLEGES:
  • You may be able to receive scholarships from the school! This can be a great help to undocumented students, particularly those with high GPAs and SAT scores. You may be eligible to receive merit-based scholarships- sometimes even a “full ride” if you have very high grades and achievement.
  • There are hundreds of private colleges in California alone, and many offer small, personalized classes and services for international students. This may improve your chances of successfully graduating.
  • You may be able to make personal connections with campus staff and faculty, something that large public schools may not be able to offer to you.
  • When you pay fees at private colleges, you are eligible to use ALL CAMPUS RESOURCES. That means that health services, tutoring, career services, and counseling services are all available to you. This is different from public colleges, where some services are reserved for legal residents only. 
CONS about PRIVATE COLLEGES:
  • If you do not receive scholarships, private colleges are often (but not always) more expensive than comparable public schools.
  • It can be difficult to choose a private college that suits you. You will need to do research to help you decide which institutions to apply to. There are literally thousands of different private colleges and universities throughout the United States. Use online tools like the College Board College Matchmaker or the Princeton Review Explore College. Some of these search engines allow you to specifically seek out colleges that give aid to international students.
PRIVATE 4-YEAR COLLEGES WITHIN 50 MILES OF SANTA BARBARA COUNTY:
  • Antioch University
  • California Lutheran University
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  •  Westmont College
GETTING IN to a private college –
Admissions Information
  • WHEN TO APPLY: You will most likely apply for Admission in the fall of your senior year. This means that you need to build up your resume and GPA by the summer before senior year.  
  • NEVER LIE! If an Admissions application asks you for your social security number, never list an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) number or any other number. Just leave the field blank!
  • STUDY! Your GPA and SAT (or ACT) scores need to be as high as possible to be considered for admission and merit-based scholarships.
  • SHARPEN YOUR RESUME! It’s not just about the grades! You will need to have a competitive resume to win one of the scholarships your school offers.   Make sure you have dedicated some of your time to athletics, employment, clubs and organizations, or volunteering. You don’t need to be perfect in every one of these areas- but make sure that your resume is as strong as possible.
  • RESEARCH! Use the summer before senior year to research all of the important Admissions deadlines for the private colleges that you select.
  • ADMISSIONS FEE WAIVERS: many private schools have these available if your family is considered low-income. Early in your senior year, call the Admissions Office at all of the private colleges you are applying to and ask about the availability of fee waivers. Not all private colleges offer these, but many do.
  • SAT/ACT: Many private colleges require the SAT or ACT. Plan to take these tests during your sophomore and junior year. The colleges that ask for these tests are more likely to offer you a merit-based scholarship, so don’t be afraid to take these tests!
     
PAYING FOR a private college –
Financial Aid/Scholarship Information
  • CAL GRANT/STATE AID: The Cal-Grant program does provide aid for students who choose private colleges in the state. Please see the financial aid page on this website for more information on Cal-Grants.
  • SCHOOL-BASED AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS: Many private schools allow all students to compete for the scholarships that they offer.  Call the financial aid office to find out what is offered, and when you can apply for scholarships. Many of these scholarship deadlines may be in the fall!
  • USE THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE! Aside from school-based scholarships, call the financial aid office to find out if there are any other scholarships for international students that they recommend.
  • RESEARCH OTHER SCHOLARSHIPS! Use www.latinocollegedollars.org to find other scholarships that are offered by non-profits, businesses, and other groups.
  • NEVER LIE! If a financial aid or scholarship application asks you for your social security number, never list an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) number or any other number. Just leave the field blank!
     
  • BE PERSISTENT! If you find a scholarship that fits you but you are not sure if AB540 students are eligible, call them and ask if they will accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a social security number.
  • TRANSFERRING FROM A COMMUNITY COLLEGE? Check out the financial aid office at your community college to find out about scholarships that you can take with you to your new school.
  • USE YOUR COMMUNITY! Many AB540 students turn to their communities by setting up meetings with friends and other potential donors. By sharing your story with individuals, you may be able to gather enough private contributions to pay for college. During your meeting, share a copy of your resume and emphasize your dreams for the future. Don’t forget to send each contributor a thank you letter and an update of how you are doing in school. Sending a good report card may help you get contributions for future semesters.
     
  • DON’T COMPLETE THE FAFSA ONLINE! If your college requests that you complete a FAFSA, call the school and explain your status as an AB540 student. They may still ask that you complete a paper version of the FAFSA and mail it in to the school directly. As an AB540 student, you should never turn in a FAFSA to the federal government- this can leave you vulnerable to deportation.
 
WHO CAN HELP ME AT a private college ? Campus Resource Information
 
  • Many campuses have a Diversity Recruiter or Coordinator in their Admissions office. Call the Admissions Department and ask if there is anyone who is designated to work with International or AB540 students. You will not need to identify yourself as ‘undocumented’- use ‘AB540’ or ‘International Student’ instead.
  • When you pay fees at private colleges, you are eligible to use ALL CAMPUS RESOURCES. That means that health services, tutoring, career services, and counseling services are all available to you.

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