For Ji Wan, a Student-Friendly Loan Opened Doors to a Masters Degree

Impact Investments, Education, Workforce & Economic Mobility


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

When Ji Wan turned 18, he tried to enlist in the army, only to discover he did not possess U.S. citizenship and was unable to serve. That’s when he learned he was eligible for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). 

Determined not to let his immigration status define him, Ji Wan took a chance and applied to the University of Memphis, despite lacking the means to pay for college and being ineligible for financial aid. He then learned of an open spot in Equal Chance for Education‘s scholarship program, which aims to expand access to higher education for Tennessee’s undocumented students. Equal Chance decided to sponsor Ji Wan’s scholarship to the University of Memphis, allowing him to attend college without accumulating any debt.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Ji Wan discovered his passion for psychology. He wanted to obtain a Doctorate in Psychology but realized he lacked the necessary research credits. So he decided to pursue a Masters in Psychology at his alma mater to gain more experience in the field and get more research hours under his belt.

As Ji Wan sought financial support for his graduate studies, he reached back out to Equal Chance. Because of his immigration status, he wasn’t eligible for the federal government’s Direct PLUS loan program or many private loan programs. So Equal Chance encouraged him to apply for the Dreamers Graduate Loan Program, a $100 million graduate school loan program managed by Social Finance in partnership with Equal Chance for Education, TheDream.US, and Golden Door Scholars. The program provides student-friendly loans for DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients who want to pursue professional degrees but can’t access public loan programs due to their immigration statuses. The program also offers interest rates on par with those available to American citizens via the federal loan program and is designed to ensure that participants only take on manageable debt.

With the aid of the Dreamers Graduate Loan Program, Ji Wan embarked on his Masters journey. Once he graduates in May 2024, he hopes to continue pursuing his professional goals by becoming a psychologist.

The loan changed my situation a lot. I’m very thankful because I honestly didn't think I'd be able to go to grad school without it, especially when every other loan program I spoke with said I wasn't a citizen [and therefore was not eligible for a loan]. I’m really glad that there are people out there who believe in providing opportunities for DACA individuals like me.Ji Wan, Dreamers Graduate Loan Program Participant

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