by Lena Torres | Staff Writer|
The California Dream Act has officially passed.
Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB-131, the second part of the California Dream Act, officially making the bill a law. The first part of the bill was signed earlier this year in July.
The Dream Act makes illegal immigrants “eligible to apply for and participate in all student financial aid programs administered by the State of California to the full extent permitted by federal law,” according to the bill itself.
Beginning next July, illegal immigrants will be eligible for state scholarships and financial aid, if they meet certain qualifications.
California is the third state to pass the legislation following New Mexico and Texas.
This legislation gives hope and opportunity to immigrants in California, looking to expand their education. Brown said he believes it is a way to help immigrants give back to a country that has given them so much.
“Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking. The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us,” said Brown in a press release.
For immigrants to be eligible for state funding they must meet certain qualifications.
They must have entered the United States prior to age 16, lived in the United States for five consecutive years prior to the enactment of the bill; must have graduated high school or obtained a GED as well as be accepted to a college/university or some type of institution of higher education.
The requirements also include the individual must be between the ages of 12- 35 and be of good moral character. Current law also requires Cal Grant recipients to have a GPA of 2.0 according to csac.ca.gov.
California students have mixed opinions in regards to the passing of the bill. Some believe our state simply cannot afford it at this time.
“I don’t feel our state budget is in the condition to issue out more financial aid. I am a natural born citizen who is struggling with my college fees due to lack of state funding,” said UCR student Stephanie Ike.
However, according to the California Department of Finance, there are about only 2,500 students who will qualify for Cal Grants.
The cost is about $14.5 million. The annual budget of the Cal Grant program is at 1.4 billion. The new cost will make up 1 percent of the annual budget.
Others say they support the act as long as the state is capable of providing the extra funding.
“I think it is great that others will have opportunities previously not offered. I don’t know where there extra money will come from, but if the state can work it out, I’m all for it,” said CSUSB student Maury Dudley.
Some students support the legislation but believe there should be stricter qualifications in order to receive state funding.
“The Dream Act has good intentions, however there should be a stricter GPA requirement in order to receive state funding,” said CSUF student Mark Villanueva.