By Raymond Nava
Senate Bill 1141 would reduce the requirements needed for students to be exempt from paying nonresident tuition. The bill was introduced by State Senator Monique Limon (D). SB 1141 is one of many bills introduced this year focusing on college students.
The current law says that any student who is not excluded from falling under the term of “immigrant,” is exempt from having to pay nonresident tuition at any California State University or California Community College. Students need a total of at least three years of full-time attendance at certain California schools or earned the equivalent credits while at the schools. Alternatively, a student may complete three or more years of full-time high school coursework in California as well as attending elementary and secondary schools in California for at least three years. SB 1141 would reduce the minimum number of years attending high school, elementary and secondary schools from three years to two years.
According to the California Undocumented Higher Education Coalition, there are about 75,000 undocumented immigrants attending a university or public college in California. Of the 50,000 DACA applicants, only 15% were awarded a Cal Grant award. Only 27,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school in California each year.
There hasn’t been much movement on SB1141 through the legislature as of yet. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate on February 16 of this year. On April 18, SB1141 was placed on a suspense file and is currently awaiting a committee hearing.
The Academic Senate of California Community Colleges sent a letter to the California Senate Education Committee in support of SB 1141 on March 29. The ASCCC wrote that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students had to abandon college plans, with low income and students of color being heavily affected. This also extends to undocumented immigrants who were affected by the pandemic. The ASCCC believes that SB 1141 would expand the number of eligible individuals to receive benefits. “Expanding the number of students who qualify for in-state tuition will allow California’s most vulnerable residents access to benefits that will save them time and money in pursuing higher education. SB 1141 represents the principles of fairness and equity for which California strives,” the academic senate wrote.