California To Give In-State Tuition To Non-Citizens

Last Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that will allow low-income Mexican residents living near the border of California to receive in-state tuition at some community colleges, the Associated Press reported.

Low-income Mexican citizens living within 75 miles of the border with California who want to attend a Southern California community college will be able to qualify for in-state tuition costs at participating schools starting next year. The 5-year pilot program will run until 2029.

State Assemblyman David Alvarez, the author of the measure, said in a June hearing of the state Senate Education Committee that the measure will help to make college education more accessible for the Mexicans who frequently travel to California to visit family or work while helping to prepare them for jobs.

In a statement after the governor signed the measure, Assemblyman Alvarez said the pilot program would “unlock a significant untapped resource” to create a “more diverse population” in the American labor force.

Alvarez described Mexico’s Northern Baja California and Southern California as a “megaregion” where more than 170,000 Californians and Mexicans cross the border daily for “work, school, or leisure.” He said in the statement that the law will “address the demand for skilled workers” while promoting a more diverse economy by reducing the cost of tuition for low-income Mexicans.

Southwestern College of Chula Vista President Mark Sanchez said at June’s Senate hearing that without the pilot program, the college would experience a loss of talent.

The law will require the boards of participating community colleges to submit to state lawmakers a report showing the demographics and attendance rate of the Mexican students receiving in-state tuition through the pilot program by 2028.

A similar California law was passed in 2015 to permit some residents of Nevada who live near the border of California to qualify for in-state tuition rates to attend Lake Tahoe Community College.