These New California Laws Will Impact Higher Education and College Students in 2024

California Gov. Newsom signed a slew of legislation that will go into effect in 2024. Here's what college students need to know.
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Margaret Attridge is a news reporter for BestColleges focusing on higher education news stories in California. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2022 with a BA in journalism and government and politics....
Published on December 19, 2023
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  • Several new laws in California that affect higher education will go into effect in 2024.
  • The laws include new requirements for the state's public education systems, including price transparency and reports on sexual harassment.
  • Another law will increase penalties for individuals who employ hate symbols and allow students from Mexico to qualify for in-state tuition to community colleges.

The New Year will ring in many new laws in California. Here are some of the bills that will impact higher education and college students.

Price Transparency of Course Materials

Assembly Bill (AB) 607 requires the California Community College (CCC) and California State University (CSU) systems to "prominently display" the estimated costs for each course on the campus course schedule.

The estimated cost will include all course materials, including digital and physical textbooks, calculators, and software subscriptions needed for successful class participation.

The requirements would be phased in, with no less than 40% of courses having costs listed by the beginning of 2025, 55% by 2026, 65% by 2027, and 75% by 2028.

The CCC and CSU systems are already required by existing law to highlight courses that "exclusively use digital course materials" that are free.

The new law is compulsory for schools in both the California Community College and California State University systems. However, the University of California system has the option to comply. The requirements will go into effect July 1, 2024, and will apply to the 2024-2025 academic school year.

Expanding Penalties for Hate Symbols

AB 2282 increases the consequences for anyone who "places or displays hate symbols on private and nonprivate property, with the intent to terrorize another."

Hate symbols include Nazi swastikas, nooses, and desecrated crosses or other religious symbols.

The new law would expand the offenses to include "hanging a noose, placing or displaying a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, and burning, desecrating, or destroying a religious symbol, such as a cross, at schools and public places, generally, as specified, to terrorize a person."

The offenses will now carry an increased prison sentence and maximum fines. The legislation also expands the locations where hate symbols are banned to include colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and public spaces.

Reporting Requirements for California State University

Senate Bill (SB) 808 requires CSUs to compile and submit a report to the state legislature on sexual harassment investigations and complaints and post the reports publicly on their website.

"The California State University, in its handling of sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints … has been woefully inadequate," the bill text read. "... Incidents at numerous California State University campuses across the state indicate a clear lack of safeguards, sufficient policies, professional oversight, and accountability in the California State University system.

The report would be required to include several metrics, including the number of sexual harassment reports filed by each campus, the number of formal sexual harassment complaints under investigation, how much time each investigation has taken, and the outcomes of hearings by each campus. The report must be submitted by an annual Dec. 1 deadline.

In-State Tuition for Certain Students From Mexico

AB 91 allows up to 150 low-income students from Mexico who live within 45 miles of the border to pay in-state tuition at eligible local community colleges. The bill applies to up to 150 students per college.

While an existing law allows community colleges to admit nonresident students, including students from states that border California, nonresident students have to pay a nonresident tuition fee.

The new law would add additional exemptions from out-of-state tuition for nonresident, low-income students who are residents of Mexico, register for lower-division classes at select colleges, and live within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border.

The five-year pilot program will begin in 2024.