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ADEA Access, Diversity and Inclusion — July 2014

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During the 2014 National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions National Meeting, June 25–29 in San Francisco, ADEA Access, Diversity and Inclusion (ADEA ADI) staff members met with college pre-health advisors to share information about ADEA’s Explore Health Careers website, the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools and the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program.

Historically, the meeting has had a medical focus, so ADEA ADI staff took the opportunity to discuss dental professions with the pre-health advisors. ADEA ADI staff received outstanding feedback from advisors on all the resources ADEA presented for equipping students considering dental professions.

A session titled “Supporting and Advising Undocumented Students” was also informative to ADEA ADI’s work, as a number of undocumented dental students are currently studying in the United States. Undocumented individuals residing in the United States are explicitly excluded from coverage under the Affordable Care Act,.

In California, however, state policy support includes the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which provides in-state tuition, financial aid and institutional funding for undocumented students. In addition, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act provides a deferred status that makes this funding possible. In the United States, there are an estimated 1.6 million undocumented people between the ages of 19 and 34. Of DACA applications, 98,531, or 27%, are from California.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program is open to individuals granted deferred action status under DACA. Undocumented students can be admitted as independent contractors at academic institutions, using ITIN numbers, providing an avenue for financial support of undocumented students during their studies.

Other ways to provide financial support to undocumented students include state institution aid, increased access to private funding and creative ways to help finance education (such as crowd funding). Another is providing career exposure opportunities and training staff on how to appropriately mentor and advise students. On the graduate school level, schools can advocate for acceptance and admissions policies that include undocumented students, embrace non-traditional paths many undocumented students have to take in applying, and be informed about immigration policies that affect students in the long term.