California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law Friday to make low-income Mexican residents living near the border eligible for in-state tuition at certain community colleges.
The law applies to low-income Mexicans who live within 72 kilometers of the California-Mexico border and want to attend a participating community college in Southern California. This is a pilot program that will be launched next year and will run until 2029.
Some people travel frequently between Mexico and California to work or visit family. The law will help make education more accessible to those residents and prepare them for jobs, Assemblyman David Alvarez, the bill’s author, said at a Senate Education Committee hearing in June.
“This pilot program can unlock an important untapped resource to prepare a more diverse population in our workforce,” Alvarez said in a statement.
Mark Sánchez, president of Southwestern College in Chula Vista, a California city about seven miles from the border, said many students at the school divide their time between the two countries.
“Without this pilot program, we risk losing 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 who live near the California border to attend Lake Tahoe Community College at in-state tuition rates.