Proposed Bill Would Allow Some Students From Mexico to Attend California Community Colleges

San Diego Democrat David Alvarez introduced the bill, which has the support of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association.
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  • The bill would let some students from Mexico enroll in California Community Colleges.
  • Mexican students would have to live within 45 miles of the border.
  • Low-income students would be exempt from the nonresident tuition fee.

A proposed bill in California would allow some Mexican students to attend community college classes in California.

Assembly member David Alvarez (D-San Diego) introduced the legislation, which would allow low-income students in Mexico who live within 45 miles of the border with California to attend local community colleges without paying nonresident tuition.

"We live in a dynamic border region where we need to educate more students to fill the jobs required for growth," Alvarez said in a press release. "This bill will allow low-income residents who live close to the border to attend local community colleges."

The legislation has earned the endorsement of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA).

"Southwestern College is the cornerstone for affordable and accessible higher education opportunities in the South County," Southwestern College Superintendent and President Dr. Mark Sanchez said in the release. "Expanding affordable access to low-income, binational students will make a significant contribution to our region's binational workforce and economy."

While 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. However, nonresidents who are both citizens and residents of another country with a demonstrated financial need would qualify for an exemption.

Current enrollment at a San Diego community college costs $46 per unit. Additionally, nonresidents must pay a nonresident tuition fee of $304, plus enrollment and health fees, according to the San Diego Community College District.

The bill would allow up to 200 students at each SDICCCA college to be exempt from paying nonresident tuition.

Other exemptions in the bill include:

  • Nonresidents who enroll in six or fewer units
  • Students who attend Lake Tahoe Community College and who live in specific communities in Nevada
  • Students who were admitted or enrolled in higher education in Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi during the fall semester of the 2005-2006 school year and could not continue "as a direct consequence of damage sustained by that institution as a result of Hurricane Katrina"

The bill is a pilot program that would sunset on Jan. 1, 2029, unless another statute is enacted making its provision permanent.