Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Friday that will allow low-income Mexicans living near the border to enroll at certain community colleges in Southern California at in-state tuition rates, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The pilot program starts next year and will extend through 2029. Up to 150 students at each of the eight partner colleges will be able to participate.
The law is similar to a long-standing law in Texas that permits Mexican residents living close to the border to attend public higher ed institutions at in-state tuition prices. The California law applies to low-income Mexican residents living within 45 miles of the border.
“There are students who might actually be U.S. citizens but happen to be living in the Baja region because of the cost of living,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember David Alvarez, told the Times. “So there are some students who find themselves in that situation who don’t have a California residence because families can’t afford to live here.”
Boards of the partner community colleges will be required to submit a report to state lawmakers by 2028 detailing the demographics of students who receive in-state tuition through the program and their attendance rates, the Associated Press reported.
Mark Sanchez, president of Southwestern College, said at a Senate Education Committee hearing in June that many students on his campus frequently travel between the two countries.
“Without this pilot, we risk everything in terms of loss of talent,” he said at the hearing.