Financial Aid Access Proposal Vetoed

Tamara Bartlett covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the California DREAM Act over the weekend, killing the bill that would have made undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.

The act, introduced by State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), was passed by the state Legislature last month but was vetoed by the governor Saturday.

The act would have allowed undocumented students to apply for and participate in any California student financial aid program except the Competitive Cal Grant A and B award program.

In his veto letter, Schwarzenegger said it would not be acceptable to use state funds toward undocumented students when fees for California public institutions are rising.

“It would not be prudent to place additional strain on the General Fund to accord the new benefit of providing state-subsidized financial aid to students without lawful immigration status,” the letter stated.

If the act had passed, it would have cost a total of between $92.8 million and $154.6 million from the state’s general fund over a four-year period to provide Cal Grant Entitlement A and B awards to undocumented students, said Gena Grebitus, deputy press secretary in the governor’s office.

Many students called the veto a poor decision by the governor, saying it will narrow public access to higher education.

“It’s about the California dream and for the government to go and veto it like this … is really, really frustrating,” said UC Student Association President Oiyan Poon. “It just shows that he doesn’t seem very sincere about public access to higher education and equal opportunity.”

The UCSA along with other student groups and the UCLA Labor Center lobbied for the passage of the bill and later advocated for the governor to sign it into law.

Others disagreed, saying the veto was a good move as the act could have put undocumented students ahead of documented students in the race for college admissions.

“(The act) also puts those children in competition with legal students who’re trying to go to college and all other California citizens who’re trying to find a way to put their kids through college and receive aid,” said Mariann Davies, vice-chair and charter member of the national organization You Don’t Speak For Me.


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