New Bill Allows Some Mexican Residents to Pay In-State California Tuition

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A new law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will allow some Mexican residents living close to the border to receive in-state tuition.

Assembly Bill 91 permits low-income Mexican residents who live within 45 miles of the border between Mexico and California to pay in-state tuition rates at nine partner community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties. A total of 150 students are eligible for the exemption, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The institutions include Cuyamaca College, Grossmont College, Imperial Valley College, MiraCosta College, Palomar College, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, San Diego Miramar College, and Southwestern College.

The pilot program launches on January 1, 2024, and ends in July 2029. The colleges receiving the exemption must submit a joint report to lawmakers by 2028 to show the demographics, attendance, and completion rates of students participating in the program.

The bill is modeled in part by a decades-old law in Texas and a law in Nevada.

State Assemblymember David Alvarez (D), who helped write the bill, emphasized the urgent need to double San Diego’s post-secondary educated workforce by 2030, citing data from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation that shows the city requires 20,000 new skilled workers each year to meet economic demand.

“This pilot program can unlock a significant untapped resource to prepare a more diverse population among our workforce,” Alvarez said in a statement on Monday. “I want to thank all the advocates who supported this bill and for fighting to expand education opportunities to every community.”

Mark Sanchez, superintendent and president of Southwestern College, stated that the bill is transformational for the region.

“By expanding affordable access to our region’s community colleges, our binational students will be better equipped to enter our workforce and be a part of this thriving binational economy,” Sanchez said in a statement.