Gov. Jerry Brown signs California Dream Act

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California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the California Dream Act, AB 131, that allows undocumented immigrants attending California universities to receive state-funded financial aid.

Brown's signature also makes undocumented immigrants attending these universities eligible for fee waivers.

“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a press release Saturday. "The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us."

Prior to signing the bill Brown indicated support for the measure — which is the companion bill to the AB 130, a bill he signed into law earlier this year. AB 130 allowed undocumented college students access to privately-funded scholarships and grants that were not available to them before. Collectively the bills are known as the California Dream Act.

Both bills were sponsored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) who was notified Saturday of the Governor's action.

"I'm very happy for the state of California," Cedillo said Saturday, and happy to be working with "a governor that has the convictions and the courage to act on his convictions."

When asked about the long-view of legal status for these students, Cedillo stressed the overarching value of education.

"We want people to be educated and prepare them for the moment that their legal status does change," he said. "At some moment, whether it is going to be federal immigration reform, or whether they get married...there will be some moment that their legal status changes — that is temporary. What is permanent is their education."

AB 131, which goes in to effect Jan. 1, 2013, requires undocumented students to meet the same requirements as legal citizens. Undocumented students will only be considered for financial assistance after all legal residents are reviewed.

The California Department of Finance estimates some 2,500 additional students will be eligible for Cal Grants due to AB 131, a number that could cost the state about $14.5 million — or about 1 percent of the Cal Grant program which is funded for $1.4 billion.

Brown says the bill gives top students a chance to expand their educational opportunities.

The package is different from the federal Dream Act, which includes a path to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.

Read more at KPCC's Multi-American Blog.

Follow live tweets about the Dream Act here.

KPCC's Leslie Berenstein Rojas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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