Impact Investments, Workforce & Economic Mobility, Talent Finance

Key Takeaway

The Dreamers Graduate Loan Program provides loans to Dreamers who cannot access public loan programs due to their immigration status. Here are some key takeaways from a webinar we hosted for people interested in supporting the program

Due to their immigration status, talented students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs who want to attend graduate school cannot access public loan programs.  

On June 13, we hosted a webinar about the Dreamers Graduate Loan Program, an innovative impact-investment initiative that is working to change that reality.  

The program, launched as a pilot with TheDream.US in 2021, removes some of the financial barriers Dreamers face when pursuing graduate degrees. Social Finance manages the loan  program in partnership with Funding U, the loan originator, and Launch LLC, the loan servicer.

During the webinar, Gaby Pacheco, President and CEO of TheDream.US, Jess Brooks, Vice President of Investor Relations at Social Finance, and Ayush Mansingh, Director of Impact Investing at Social Finance, explained how the loan program transforms the lives of participants.

Here are five key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Obtaining an undergraduate degree drastically improves outcomes for Dreamers—but some career paths require further education 

DACA aids immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, protecting them from deportation and granting them work authorization. TPS temporarily grants immigrants from specific countries permission to live and work in the U.S. 

When it comes to financing their undergraduate degrees, DACA and TPS students face many roadblocks. They are ineligible for federal loan programs and cannot access state grants or in-state tuition, in many states. And private lenders typically require co-signers or have minimum credit score requirements. 

TheDream.US helps undocumented immigrants overcome these barriers and fulfill their college and career dreams. Since its founding in 2014, the organization has provided undergraduate scholarships to more than 10,000 students, many of whom achieve greater economic mobility within a year of graduating.

Six months after graduating, 94% of our scholars are working. And six months after that, what we see is that they're making more money than their parents combined. The data is showing that the social mobility of the students that we're seeing is skyrocketing, and that they're really succeeding after graduation.Gaby Pacheco, President and CEO of TheDream.US

These outcomes are encouraging, but for Dreamers who hope to become lawyers, architects, nurses, or enter any other profession that requires graduate education, the same financing roadblocks exist.

2. The Dreamers Graduate Loan Program unlocks access to in-demand, well-paying professions 

The Dreamers Graduate Loan Program provides loans at an interest rate comparable to that available to American citizens through the Federal Grad PLUS loan program. By removing cosigner and credit score requirements, the program increases access to graduate education.  

No scholarship program like TheDream.US exists for graduate school, so this first-of-its-kind program removes the key barriers that stand between Dreamers and their graduate school aspirations. 

Throughout the borrowing journey, participating Dreamers receive financial education resources, which help them decide how to best further their education and careers. 

We provide workshops and guidance on how Dreamers should think about grad school, how they should think about the ROI of grad school, and how they should fund Grad school.Ayush Mansingh, Director of Impact Investing at Social Finance

3. The program is designed to support Dreamers without overburdening them with debt 

The program only grants loans to students who plan to attend graduate programs and institutions that are likely to lead to positive labor market outcomes. Around 1,500 institutions and more than 200 degree programs, from medicine to business to law, qualify. 

A student bill of rights forms the foundation of the Dreamers Graduate Loan Fund, ensuring all participants are empowered to make informed financial decisions throughout the graduate school process. 

These considerations guide borrowers to pursue pathways that have strong career outcomes and will provide sufficient earnings to sustain loan repayments after graduation.

4. The program is already having a measurable impact on hundreds of Dreamers 

Since 2021, the Dreamers Graduate Loan Program has financed 280 loans supporting 225 Dreamers. Borrowers are pursuing a variety of degrees with an average loan size of $37,000 per academic year. Ninety-eight percent of surveyed borrowers identified availability of funding as the primary barrier to accessing graduate school, and seventy-six percent are first-generation college students, highlighting the importance of this first-of-its-kind financing pathway.  

For Ji Wan, one of the program’s loan recipients, the loan was transformative. Ji Wan discovered his passion for psychology during his time as an undergraduate student. He had received a scholarship from Equal Chance for Education to fund his undergraduate studies but wanted to further his studies through a master’s in psychology.

The loan changed my situation a lot. I’m really glad there are people out there who believe in providing opportunities for DACA individuals.Ji Wan, Program Participant

5. There are several ways you can support the program 

To meet the demand for graduate school loans, we are raising debt and philanthropic capital. By investing in the program or spreading the word to other funders, you can help us expand the program and serve more Dreamers. If you know any Dreamers or organizations that serve Dreamers, informing them about the program also helps us expand our impact.

Looking for more information on how to get involved? Contact Ayush Mansingh or Jess Brooks to learn more   

Related Insight

Social Finance Institute Launch: The Case For Investing In Dreamers
Don Graham smiles while standing at a podium at the Social Finance Institute launch event, holding papers and wearing a red tie. flags and a projection screen are visible in the background.

Social Finance Institute Launch: The Case For Investing In Dreamers

Graham Holdings Chairman Emeritus Don Graham talks about the Dreamers Graduate Loan Fund during the April 10, 2024 launch of the Social Finance Institute at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, MA.