September 8, 2000


Firebaugh Measure That Would Provide Immigrant Students Access to Higher Education Goes to Governor

Sacramento — Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh (D-Cudahy) announced the passage of Assembly Bill 1197 by the State Assembly. AB 1197 was approved on a bipartisan vote of 49 to 9. "I am very pleased that the State Assembly gave final approval to this important legislation. Now we wait for the Governor to make a decision on the bill," Firebaugh stated.

AB 1197 would allow students who have attended high school in California for 3 or more years, who have graduated from a California high school, and who continue his or her education at a California institution of higher education, within one year of high school graduation or on or before January 1, 2001, be exempted from paying non-resident tuition.

In addition the bill would also allow students who are currently categorized as non-resident the opportunity to pay state resident tuition for the purpose of attending higher education. Students who are precluded from establishing state residency under federal law and are currently in the process of legalizing their status would qualify under the bill.

Current state law requires students who are non-residents to pay out of state tuition for attending college in California. The difference in cost between resident and non-resident tuition is dramatic. "I believe this bill is worthy of the Governor's signature. It rewards the hard work students have placed in their studies and sends a message that California supports access to higher education for all its residents," Firebaugh stated.

"Many immigrant students in California did not have a choice in coming to our state. However, they did have a choice in focusing their efforts to get good grades, be model students and be accepted to some of the country's best colleges and universities. I feel it is wrong for us to not allow them the opportunity to continue their education after high school," Firebaugh added.

Recently Governor Davis and the State Legislature came to an agreement to invest an unprecedented amount of funds to provide low and middle income students an opportunity to go to college through the Cal A and Cal B grant program. That commitment insures that every high school student that meets grade and income criteria be funded a scholarship to attend college. Making affordability less of an issue.

"AB 1197 provides access and affordability in the same manner that the investment made by the Legislature does for the Cal Grant programs. This bill would allow hundreds of students statewide who have worked diligently to be accepted to some of the country's top educational institutions in California, the opportunity to attend college at an affordable rate," Firebaugh continued.

"The cost of attending college should not be a barrier for any student who has demonstrated that they deserve to attend college. AB 1197 does nothing to give these students any advantage over others. All it does is give them an opportunity to reach the California dream," Firebaugh concluded.

In a letter to Assembly-member Firebaugh, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante expressed his support of the legislation. "This is not so much an issue of immigration as it is an issue of education. We should reward the hard work and diligent study of our young Californians by opening the doors of our institutions of higher education to them, not slamming them shut after they have come so far," Bustamante wrote.

Now that AB 1197 has cleared the Assembly, the Governor has until September 30th to sign or veto the legislation.

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