California Taxpayers Foot Bill for Illegal Immigrants’ Tuition

by Nicole Swinford - Chapman University on January 17, 2013

A new law that took effect Jan. 1 in California allows students who are not in the country legally access to a variety of state-funded college tuition financial aid.

Assistance such as community college fee waivers, Cal Grants and similar aid is now open to non-legal residents, with awards of up to $12,200 a year for low- and middle-income students.

To be eligible for the money, students must graduate from a California high school after attending for at least three years, and meet financial and academic standards.

Supporters of the law downplay its financial significance in this cash-strapped state, citing widely circulated statistics that less than 1 percent of students in the California State University, University of California and community college systems are undocumented. They also insist that the new law, part of the California Dream Act, won’t eat into the pool of college aid given annually to legal citizens.

However the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Office reports that the law will likely cost Californians $65 million a year by 2016. Critics say the law rewards breaking the rules and is an insult to foreign students who enter the country legally.

“We should reward those who respect our process instead of creating new incentives for those who don’t,” Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said in a statement to the Riverside-based Press-Enterprise, which reported that about 20,000 people – less than one percent of college students – are expected to apply for the state-funded Cal Grants.

But Donnelly told the newspaper the law will take away money from students who are U.S. citizens, and that it goes against the wishes of California voters, citing a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll which found 55 percent of voters opposed the law and 40 percent supported it.

The poll also showed a huge ethnic divide, with 79 percent of Latinos supporting the law, compared with 30 percent of white supporters, the Press-Enterprise notes.

The latest law granting undocumented students Cal Grants and similar aid joins a growing number of perks for illegal immigrants in California. They are already eligible for reduced in-state tuition at campuses statewide, as state law offers tuition breaks to any student who has attended a California high school for three years, regardless of their immigration status.

What’s more, as of Jan. 1, 2012, they were granted access to private college scholarships funneled through public universities.

State immigration advocates such as Luz Gallegos argue that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents.

“There’s so much potential for them,” she told the Press-Enterprise. “It’s not their fault their parents brought them here undocumented.”

Others see it differently.

Kristen Williamson, a spokeswoman for Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the Los Angeles Times the law is “a reckless use of taxpayer money.” And Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman told the newspaper it “absolutely sends the wrong message. It says if you violate the law, it’s OK.”

Fix contributor Nicole Swinford is a student at Chapman University.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.h.baker2 Jennifer Herrgesell Baker

    What a disgrace…illegal and undocumented (whichever you prefer to call them) CA should not be rewarding those who break the law. As it is, prior to entering college these students, whose parents don’t know English, are requiring more resources just to pass classes (ESL). Stop educating these illegal children and send them as well as their parents back home.

  • jethro

    And we let the illegals vote in California too. That way they can vote a tax increase on those that work (Prop 30) and take money from the working class to pay for their own benefits. California is becoming the place you have to leave.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susanna-Gordon/100000211804075 Susanna Gordon

    I work with college bound students. While parents struggle to keep their children in college, the state pays the 30K UC tuition for the illegal students. In addition,illegals get most of the other college costs paid by those same taxpayers who can’t afford to sent their own children to college.

    I love the UCs, but they are in a death spiral with their run-around our voter backed ban on affirmative action by admitting underqualified minorities, their sacrfice of academic programs to finance the already huge numbers of diversity programs on each campus (with huge salaries and costs, and duplicated over and over), and their largesse to illegals. The system is moving away from what they were charged to do, in favor of an anti-western civilation bias and agenda that defies their charter.

    In California, we spend 40 Billion a year on illegals That includes legal defense and cost of incarceration because of their high crime rate. The list of benefits is mindboggeling and includes complete health care, with no questions asked. The feds also provide numerous benefits. What a deal!

    They get everything free except their cars, as far as I can see. And stats show they end up with more money at the end of a year than legal Mexicans.

  • Tn

    So immigrants get to go to school at no cost yet soldiers get their tuition assistance suspended because they can’t afford a soldiers education.