The California Dream Act

Things are looking swell just about now. Well, in California for the most part, and that is to say for many AB540 students.

On Tuesday, March 15, 2011 lawmakers in the California Higher Education Committee of the Assembly passed proposals AB130 and AB131.  Know as the “California Dream Act”, these bills would grant financial aid and scholarships to AB540 students enrolled in California State Universities, the California Community Colleges, or in Universities of California, and technical schools.  

The  basic summaries of the bills AB131 and Ab130 state:

Enacts the California Dream Act f 2011. Allows a non-resident pursuant to AB 540 law (who has attended, for 3 or more years, and graduated from a secondary school) to apply for and participate in all institutional student aid programs administered by the UC, CSU, and, CCC, including the CCC Board of Governor’s fee waiver. The number of aid awards to California residents may not be diminished as a result of this provision

Cedillo AB130

Allows a non-resident pursuant to AB 540 law (who has attended, for 3 or more years, and graduated from a secondary school) to apply for and participate in any student financial aid program administered by the state to the full extent permitted by federal law. Requires the Student Aid Commission to establish procedures and forms that enable those persons who are exempt to apply for all financial aid programs.

Cedillo AB131

Dozens of similar proposals  had been introduced in previous years, but were always vetoed by former Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though the proposals have not been approved or vetoed, a new Governor holds the seat, and many are hoping that the proposals will pass!  

If passed, the proposals would take effect January 1, 2012. According to Alcocer an “estimated 75 percent of undocumented students would receive $4 million of financial aid under AB 130, and 50 percent of them would be eligible for Cal Grants up to about $3 million under AB 131

Many state that if the bill pass it would be a burden to those paying taxes. Rather to is seems like a free pass for undocumented students to obtain an education, an education that will serve of no purpose if they can’t get a job after graduation.

But it isn’t exactly the case, in fact many of these students already hold jobs and granting them financial aid would relive a grand financial burden, giving them more time to focus on their studies and later begin the process towards legally residency. Where then after they would be able to use the degrees they hold, and become grand contributors to American society.

Oh but wait, did this isn’t everything many state, those against these proposals feel that passing such would create incentives/lure more immigrants (college bound students) to come into the country. Well, that wouldn’t be the case, because the bills would not grant these immigrants any aid; there are clear and specific criteria which must be met entirely in order to receive any funds. That being the case if any student decided to immigrate to California for this aid, he or she would be out of luck and better of in the country to which he or she was originally studying in, because the state would not grant him or her any money.

Last key misconception to address; these students aren’t taking anyone else’s financial aid. The provisions say that the aid would be for everyone, only a select few would relieve financial aid. That is to say AB 131 has been edited to ensure that Cal Grants will not be reduced for students that are legal residents, AB540 students would be the last to receive and aid, and not all would get it.

It may not be the DREAM Act many students had in mind, but it will be of great assistance to them, especially for those attending Universities of California, because tuition for such schools is higher than any other in the public schooling system.

Final hearings (approval or veto) for these proposals will be this coming May, the day exactly is not yet known.

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