As a California resident, you can save a lot of money at the University of California – about $ 30,000 a year.
At the University of San Jose and other universities in the California State University system, a nonresident student pays nearly $ 10,000 more than a California resident with the same workload of 12 units. At a community college, the savings can be around $ 7,500.
For more than 20 years, California has exempted many undocumented students from having to pay nonresidents for tuition at public colleges and universities. But gaps in the law mean that some undocumented students and visa holders are still not eligible for state prices – even if they have lived in the state for more than a decade.
State lawmakers are now debating two bills that will make it easier for even more students to get the right to study in the state. UC and the state of California could lose millions of revenue if one or both bills are passed.
Proponents say the bills will close the capital gap and increase access to affordable higher education – especially important when the state has a record budget surplus and students recover after a global pandemic.
Take the case of Sakshi Savale, a senior cadet at the University of San Jose. She had nothing to choose from when she applied to college. Savale came to California in 2009, two years after her family immigrated to the United States from India.
California law allows undocumented immigrants and some others who are not eligible to reside in California to be exempt from paying tuition outside the state if they attended three years of California high school, community college, or adult school and received a degree. Eligible students may also be eligible for Cal Grant, the state’s primary form of financial aid.
But Savale was not without documents. She was a dependent visa holder, which meant that her stay in the U.S. depended on her father, a business consultant who has a work visa.
While many colleges considered her a foreign student, the state of San Jose allowed her to pay for tuition in the state, saving her family tens of thousands of dollars. However, this school year everything changed after Savale turned 21 and he had to switch to a student visa. Now the university says she has about $ 1,500 left over from the fall fees she has to pay before she can get her degree.
“Now I’m going to graduate, and that could stop me from getting a degree, and it’s been extremely stressful,” said Savale, who hopes to stay in San Jose for graduate school.
Senate Bill 1160authored by Los Angeles Democrat Maria Elena Duraza, will help students like Savalla allow students whose parents have certain long-term visas to the U.S. to qualify for state education if they meet other legal requirements.
At an April hearing on the Senate Education Committee, members said a track should be provided for students who have been in the state for a long time, but some have expressed concern that wealthy foreigners will take advantage of the bill. Savale and other visa holders who organize a group called Improve the Dream, however, say they should be included.
“Some visa holders – they usually had better benefits and access to resources, both in terms of income, education, status,” said Adrian Trinidad, a higher education researcher and assistant director of partnership at the University of Southern California Public College. Center for Racing and Justice. However, he said, it makes sense to provide in-state training to students who have been part of California for years and will continue to contribute to the state’s economy.
Another bill, Senate Bill 1141, reduce from three to two years the number of undocumented students or others who do not have legal residence in California, must attend high school or graduate school in the state to qualify for study in the state. Written by State Sen. Monique Limon, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, he is sponsored by the California Public College and Immigrants Rising, which advocates for undocumented students.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will decide the fate of both bills on Thursday along with hundreds of others on the committee. file in advance.
Representatives of the State of California and the University of California did not comment on the bills. According to the California Office of Legal Analysts, tuition fees for nonresidents are about 13% of the UC budget.
SB 1141 is likely to increase costs for the state because it will allow new students to apply for a Cal Grant. Senator Brian Dahl, a Lasen County Republican, expressed concern at the Education Committee hearing in March that there are a limited number of Cal Grants grants. “There’s not enough money to walk,” he said.
The state has enough extra money in this year’s budget, however, to offset much of the direct costs, Trinidad said. “The surplus has been so strong that I think it’s more a question of whether people think (college availability for these students) is a problem,” he said.
Reducing attendance requirements to two years could inspire more prospective students to attend the state’s public colleges they face refusal of enrollmentsaid David O’Brien, vice chancellor for public relations of the office of the chancellor of California Public Colleges.
“We believe this is closing a truly critical gap in access, especially for undocumented students at higher education institutions in California who have been blocked,” O’Brien said.
The bill also repeals a provision requiring public college students who are eligible to enroll in non-credit courses to meet the attendance requirement, which some students say forces them to spend time in classes that do not help them advance to the degree.
Limon said the bill could immediately help up to 900 students, and lawmakers believe the long-term impact will be much greater. Students without documents are not eligible for federal student aid, making access to state aid and lower tuition fees crucial.
“There are thousands of students who will be eligible,” said Nancy Jadaitis, director of higher education at Immigrants Rising.
Esther Ugwuezumba, an undocumented student at El Camino College whose family is from Nigeria, applied to study in the state last winter but was not approved, she said. As a high school graduate who attended a school in California for two years, she will qualify under the bill.
Her mother pays the tuition bill by working two jobs: a tutor and a certified paramedic at the hospital. Ugwuezumba, which specializes in nursing, also works as a caregiver to help with expenses. Soon the family will also have to pay more fees if Uguuezumba’s brother starts attending the University of California this summer.
When Ugwuezumba’s application for state education is approved, she said it “will reduce a lot of the pressure on my mom”.
Zaim Sheikh is a friend of CalMatters College Journalists Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across California. This story and other materials on higher education are supported by the Future Colleges Foundation.