California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Friday that will allow some students living in Mexico near the border to receive in-state tuition at certain community colleges, his administration confirmed on its website.
The bill was one of many listed in a “legislative update” news release. “Governor Gavin Newsom took his final actions of the 2023 legislative season today,” the Friday release said. “The desk is clear.”
The bill, introduced by Assemblymember David Alvarez, D-San Diego, affects low-income students living within 45 minutes of the California 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,” Alvarez told The Los Angeles 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.”
The California bill took a note from a decades-old Texas law, allowing students living near its border to also waive nonresident tuition.
“At some point, I stopped believing I could go to college,” Agustin Guzman, who attends Texas A&M International University, in Laredo, Texas, while living in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, told The Times. “But now, I tell people that I cross every day — that I do three hours on the bridge just to get a college education.”
Under the California law, 150 students at the eight partner community colleges — all in San Diego and the Imperial Valley — will get a “nonresident fee exemption.”
Alvarez noted that “California tends to lead” the nation on many issues, but in this area Texas was ahead of curve, having graduated more than 70,000 students through the program so far, The Times reported.
“It definitely is a surprise,” he said of the Texas having signed the law so long before California.
The California pilot program will start next year and run until 2029.
State Sen. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, said he agrees with the bill’s intentions but was one of five Republicans who voted against it for “fiscal reasons.”