On Monday, the California Supreme Court upheld a law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition for state colleges.
AB 540, signed in October 2001, applies to schools in the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. The bill prevents illegal immigrants and other undocumented students from having to pay a more expensive out-of-state tuition under certain provisions.
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Per the bill’s text, those who qualify must have attended a public California high school for three years, graduated from that school and filled out an affidavit that says he or she will apply for US residency as soon as possible.
“We don’t classify them as illegal,” said Jasmine Ruys, Director of Admissions, Records and Online Services at College of the Canyons.
The court made its ruling with the understanding that AB 540 is not based on legal residency, as an out-of-state student could have attended a California high school for three years before becoming a resident of another state. Though not necessarily a California resident come college, that student would still be eligible for California’s in-state tuition.
According to Director of Institutional Research, Daylene M. Meuschke, the estiminated total enrollment for the current semester is 22,500. For the Fall 2008 term, the total headcount was 23,416.
Ruys said that 178 students are currently served by AB 540 at COC, down from the 242 enrolled for the 2008-09 academic year.
While she’s aware of student and parental concerns over class and seat availability, Ruys said she’s never received a complaint about undocumented students attending COC.
“We have had a decrease in some classes, but that’s been due to budget cuts and not anything like (the bill),” she said.