The California DREAM Loan Program made $5 million available to help provide financial assistance to more than 3,000 undocumented students at the University of California (UC).

The DREAM program grants undocumented students access to a system of student loans, made possible by funding provided by California's public four-year universities and the state's general funds.

Last week, UC President Janet Napolitano announced that $5 million in loans was ready for distribution to students who qualify. Although the loan program was first authorized in September 2014, funding was not made available until this academic year.

Under current law, undocumented high school graduates who meet the California DREAM Act requirements were only eligible for state and university aid. Meanwhile, they were disqualified from federal aid, which severely limited their access to student loans. In addition, being undocumented often limited many students from getting private loans.

"This new program will reduce that gap," Napolitano said in a statement released Thursday. "It will help even the playing field for undocumented students struggling to make ends meet."

The initial $5 million for the state's DREAM Program will be distributed based on need across all nine UC undergraduate campuses. School officials also said they were actively seeking undocumented undergraduates who may be eligible.

"By reducing barriers and expanding access to higher education for undocumented students, the University of California is investing not only in the future of these students, but also in the future of our state and nation," Napolitano said.

Undocumented students who can demonstrate a financial need can apply if they are undergraduates and are enrolled at least half time at a California public four-year university.

The DREAM Loan program's interest rate for the 2015-2016 academic year, which is 4.29 percent, is tied to the federal student loan subsidized interest rate. However, accrued interest rates do not apply to students enrolled at least half time. Students are required to start paying the loan back six months after graduation.

"The DREAM loan program will grow our college-educated workforce and make good on the promise that a college degree is possible for all hard-working, qualified California students regardless of their immigration status," Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara said, reports The Santa Barbara Independent.