How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Reaction to the California Dream Act

Photo by CSU Stanislaus Photo/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A bill that would provide undocumented students in California with access to public financial aid for college is on its way to a Senate vote, but it isn't expected to have an easy ride.

AB 131 is part of a two-bill package referred to as the California Dream Act. Its companion bill AB 130, signed into law last month, will allow undocumented college students access to privately-funded scholarships and grants not available to them before. The more contentious AB 131 would let them access the same state-funded tuition aid programs available to U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The controversy that the latter bill is attracting is evident just from the conversation on this site under a post from yesterday, when the bill moved out of committee and toward the Senate floor, with a vote expected as early as next week. Here are a few excerpts from readers.

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Will the second part of the California Dream Act become law?

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One of two measures that make up what's referred to as the California Dream Act was released from suspense in a state Senate committee today, and is expected to go to the Senate floor next week for a vote. But unlike AB 130, a companion bill that was recently signed into law, the bill known as AB 131 faces slimmer odds of success.

Both measures aim to make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition. AB 130 allowed these students access to previously unavailable privately funded scholarships. AB 131 would grant them access to publicly funded financial aid, the same kind of financial aid now available to students who are U.S. citizens and legal residents. Although undocumented students can qualify for in-state tuition if they meet state residency requirements, they are still barred from public financial aid programs, such as Cal Grants.

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Readers react to the California Dream Act

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Students' t-shirts at the AB 130 signing ceremony at Los Angeles City College Monday, July 25, 2011

Readers have posted close to 30 comments since Monday on a piece related to the California Dream Act, half of which was signed into law that day by Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles.

The bill that became law, known as AB 130, is the slimmer of two bills that would make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition. AB 130 gives these students access to privately funded university scholarships derived from non-state funds.

The more contentious AB 131, which remains hung up in a state Senate committee, would give them access to publicly funded financial aid, which only U.S. citizen and legal resident students are entitled to now.

Public funds or not, the idea of giving undocumented students an easier path through college clearly rattles some. California already allows undocumented college students who meet residency criteria to pay in-state tuition rates, unlike many other states.

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Second part of California Dream Act advances

Photo by un.sospiro/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The second of two state bills referred to as the “California Dream Act” was approved 7 to 2 today in the Senate Education Committee, which approved a companion bill earlier this month. Known as AB 131, the bill would allow undocumented college students access to public financial aid.

AB 131 faces slimmer odds of becoming law than its companion bill, AB 130, both of which are sponsored by Gil Cedillo, a Democratic Assembly member from Los Angeles. Unlike AB 130, which allows undocumented students to use scholarship money not derived from public funds, AB 131 would allow these students access to the same kind of publicly-funded assistance available to other students, such as Cal Grants state grants and other aid.

The bill would amend existing law, which now bars undocumented college students from receiving public financial aid. An excerpt from the text of the bill:

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California Dream Act passes its first Senate test

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


Financial aid for undocumented college students paying tuition has inched a bit closer to becoming law in California, with part of the legislation dubbed the "California Dream Act" passing its first Senate test.

The bill, approved 7-3 today in the Senate Education Committee, would allow for undocumented students who meet the residency criteria for California in-state tuition to obtain scholarships that are not derived from state funds. Similar legislation was recently approved in Illinois.

Today's hearing follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday that upheld an existing California law allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, rather than the costlier out-of-state fees they must pay in some other states.

The California Dream Act is comprised of two related bills, both sponsored by Democratic Assembly member Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles. Both recently cleared the Assembly and are moving through the Senate approval process. The one approved today, still referred to as AB 130, is the less contested of the two; the second bill, known as AB 131, would amend state law to allow undocumented students access to publicly-funded financial aid, including Cal Grants state grants and other financial assistance.

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