How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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.