Fix Features

California DREAM Act

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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IMAGE: Refracted Moments/Flickr

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Illegal immigrants may now receive California state financial aid after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the second part of the California DREAM Act.

The new law provides financial aid in the form of community college district fee waivers, institutional aid from the University of California and California State systems, and access to Cal Grants (which students do not need to pay back) for eligible undocumented residents. The law gives California illegal immigrants the most access to higher ed financing in the country.

A State Senate report estimated the annual cost of the bill to be around $40 million. (The fiscal impact for the 2013-14 school year would be $13 million in Cal Grants, $7.5 to $15 million in fee waivers, and $11.4 to $12.2 million in institutional aid.)

Brown has overseen cumulative cuts of approximately $1.4 billion to the California higher education and community college systems.

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The California bill that would allow illegal immigrants to receive state financial aid still hasn’t been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown must make a decision on the bill by Oct. 9.

The bill, AB 131, would provide financial aid in the form of community college district fee waivers, institutional aid from the University of California and California State systems, and access to Cal Grants (which students do not need to pay back) for eligible undocumented residents. If passed, the bill would give illegal immigrants the most access to higher ed financing in the country.

Brown’s office has declined to comment on the matter.

A State Senate report estimated the annual cost of the bill to be around $40 million. (The fiscal impact for the 2013-14 school year would be $13 million in Cal Grants, $7.5 to $15 million in fee waivers, and $11.4 to $12.2 million in institutional aid.)

Brown, who previously supported the bill, has overseen cumulative cuts of more than $1 billion to the California higher education and community college systems.

 

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Illegal immigrants in California could soon receive state financial aid, pending Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on the second part of the California DREAM Act.

The bill passed the Calif. State Senate on Aug. 31 and the State Assembly on Sept. 2, where it awaits Brown’s signature. The first part of the bill, which allows illegal immigrants to receive private scholarships, was signed into law in July.

The second part, AB 131, would provide financial aid in the form of community college district fee waivers, institutional aid from the University of California and California State systems, and access to Cal Grants (which students do not need to pay back) for eligible undocumented residents. If passed, the bill would give illegal immigrants the most access to higher ed financing in the country.

A State Senate report estimated the annual cost of the bill to be around $40 million. (The fiscal impact for the 2013-14 school year would be $13 million in Cal Grants, $7.5 to $15 million in fee waivers, and $11.4 to $12.2 million in institutional aid.)

This year, Brown’s budget cut $1.4 billion from the three California education systems (UC, CSU, and the community college system).

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California Legislature is on the verge of passing a new law that would allow illegal immigrants to receive state-financial aid for college.

A part of the two-bill package, known as California DREAM Act, has been approved by the Senate. The act would make California the first state to offer public funding to undocumented students.

The approved section of the DREAM Act would allow qualified illegal immigrants to apply for Cal Grants, community college waivers and other public aid programs. To become eligible for the aid, the students would need to be California high school graduates who were educated in the state for a minimum of three years, and demonstrate both financial need and academic merit.

Read the full story at the Daily Trojan.

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