Far fewer students than last year have applied for financial aid through the California Dream Act so far this year, and advocates are trying to encourage them to do so before the March 2 deadline.
"I believe that students are not filing because they're afraid to file," said Lupita Cortez Alcalá, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, the organization that administers state financial aid.
The drop in applications is even more striking considering that the commission recently made changes to give students more time to apply. Last year, students only had from January through March 2 to submit requests for college aid. During that period, 13,200 students filed for first-time Dream Act grants, and 20,962 asked to renew their funding.