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California Policy

Updated As Of:April 21, 2017

The state of California provides qualified undocumented students with in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid through A.B. 540, A.B. 130, and A.B. 131. 

A.B. 540 | Student Eligibility requirements 
  • Must have attended a California high school for at least three academic years;
  • Must have graduated from a California high school, attained a G.E.D., or received a passing mark on the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE);
  • Must enroll at an accredited institution of public higher education in California;
  • If required by the individual institution, must file or plan to file an affidavit stating that the student will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.
For more information, please click see the following:
  • AB 540, which was proposed and passed in 2001, allows eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at California public colleges and universities. 
  • AB 130, effective January 1, 2012, allows eligible A.B. 540 students to apply and receive scholarships at California public colleges and universities. 
  • AB 131, effective January 1, 2013, allows eligible A.B. 540 students to apply and receive financial aid at California public colleges and universities. 
  • AB 1024, which was passed October 5, 2013, allows undocumented law students to practice law in the state of California upon passing the bar.
  • AB 206 was introduced in April 2015 and is currently held in committee. If passed, the bill will establish the California DREAM Work-Study Program under California State University and the University of California to provide work-study to students who meet certain requirements.
  • AB 1366 was introduced in February 2015 and has been ordered to an inactive file by Senator Jackson as of September 2015. If passed, the bill will encourage California community colleges, California State University, and the University of California to designate a DREAM Resource Liaison on their campuses to streamline access to financial aid and academic resources for certain students.
  • AB 2009 was introduced in February 2016 and was vetoed by the Governor in September 2016. If passed, it would have required California community colleges and California State Universities, and request the University of California to designate a DREAM Resource Liaison to streamline access to financial aid and academic resources. 
  • AB 1622 was introduced in February 2017. If passed, it would require the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and request the University of California, to designate a DREAM Resource Liason to assist students meeting specified requirements (including undocumented students) by streamlining access to financial aid and academic resources.
  • AB 1544 was introduced in January 2012 and is currently pending. The bill would establish a permit program that allows unauthorized immigrant workers in the agricultural and service sectors to work and remain legally in California if they have already worked 150 days in the state and continue to work or earn a minimum amount each year. 
  • AB 60 was passed October 3, 2013 and requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to individuals who are ineligible for a Social Security Number and/or are unable to provide documentation of federally authorized presence in the United States so long as all other requirements needed for licensure are met.
  • AB 4 was passed October 8, 2013 and prohibits law enforcement agencies from detaining undocumented immigrants for deportation if they have been arrested for a minor crime.
    • Upgrade current visa programs. Create guest worker program for agricultural workers
  • SB 1210 was introduced in February 2014.  The bill establishes an educational loan program for students who meet certain criteria, regardless of their status.  California Senate passed the bill in May 2014. The bill currently is in the Assembly Higher Education Committee as of June 2014. 
  • AB 21 was introduced in December 2016. If passed, the bill would request colleges to refrain from releasing information about the immigration status of students and refuse to allow United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to enter campuses without they providing specific information at least 10 business days in advance.
  • SB 29, introduced in December 2016, would prohibit a city, county, or local law enforcement from entering into, renewing, or extending the length of a contract with a private corporation or contractor to detain immigrants in civil immigration proceedings for profit. 
  • AB 21 was introduced in December 2016. If passed, it would require the Trustees of California State University and the governing boards of community college districts to refrain from releasing certain information regarding the immigration status of students, faculty, staff, or other members of the communities served by the campuses. 
  • AB 1252 was introduced in February 2017. If passed, it would make cities and counties designated as sanctuary jurisdictions ineligible for grant funding from the state. 
  • AB 578 was introduced in February 2017. If passed, it would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly and maliciously prevent or dissuade a witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at a trial or to attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness to a crime to report that crime to law enforcement by threatening to report the immigration status of a crime victim, witness, or family member of a victim or witness.
  • SB 54 was introduced in December 2016 by Senator De Leon. If passed, the bill will repeal the current law allowing local officers to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if the officers believe a detainee is not a citizen og the U.S.

Proponents

 

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.

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