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Dream Act could give $14.5 million to illegal-immigrant students

October 9, 2011 | 10:28 am


The California Dream Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Saturday, could require $14.5 million a year in state grants to illegal immigrants to help them pay for college.

The California Department of Finance estimates 2,500 additional students at public universities and community colleges will qualify for Cal-Grants as a result of the Dream Act, The Times' Patrick McGreevy reports on PolitiCal.

Brown downplayed the cost of the grants, saying they potentially would affect only about 1% of the $1.4 billion in annual Cal-Grant funding.

But critics were not convinced. Federation for American Immigration Reform spokeswoman Kristen Williamson called the bill "a reckless use of taxpayer money" at a time when the state is broke, has raised tuition and has cut many services to legal residents.

To qualify for aid under the bill, students must graduate from a California high school after attending school in the state for at least three years and must affirm that they are in the process of applying to legalize their immigration status. They also must show financial need and meet academic standards.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who praised Brown for showing courage in signing it.

"After having invested 12 years in the high school education of these young men and women, who are here through no fault of their own," Cedillo said, "it's the smartest thing for us to do to permit these students to get scholarships and be treated like every other student."

More bill-signing news on PolitiCal:

Clean-water bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown outlaws sale, possession of shark fins

Gov. Jerry Brown approves gas-pipeline safety measures

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bicycle safety bill, saying it is unsafe

Gov. Jerry Brown ends fingerprinting for food stamp recipients

Brown vetoes bill to consider race of applicants in university decisions

Photo: UCLA student Yesenia Capellino at a July rally for the Dream Act in Lynwood, Calif. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times