California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law Friday to make low-income Mexican residents living near the border eligible for in-state tuition rates at certain community colleges.
The legislation applies to low-income Mexicans who live within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border and want to attend a participating community college in Southern California. It is a pilot program that will launch next year and run until 2029.
Some people travel frequently between Mexico and California to work or visit family. The law will help make education more accessible for those residents and prepare them for jobs, Assemblymember David Alvarez, who authored the proposal, said at a Senate Education Committee hearing in June.
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"This pilot program can unlock a significant untapped resource to prepare a more diverse population among our workforce," Alvarez said in a statement.
Mark Sanchez, president of Southwestern College in Chula Vista, a California city about 7 miles from the border, said many students at the school split their time between the two countries.
"Without this pilot, we risk everything in terms of loss of talent," he said at the hearing.
The new law will require community college boards to submit a report to lawmakers by 2028 to show the attendance rate and demographics of students who received in-state tuition rates under the program.
A similar law passed in 2015 allows some Nevada residents living near the California border to attend Lake Tahoe Community College at in-state tuition rates.