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California Governor Gavin Newsom gave his legislative pen a workout this month, signing several higher education bills into law ahead of this session’s October 14 deadline.
Legislative changes in California may have effects on higher education in the world, as the state has three large public college systems serving 2.5 million students.
This session, state lawmakers have repeatedly worked to streamline higher education, from a controversial transfer pathway for community college students to a simplified financial aid process for of unauthorized immigrants.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most important higher education legislation coming out of California’s session.
Yes Behind God
A new law allows private nonprofit colleges and religious institutions to build affordable housing on their land – something that is often complicated by zoning laws.
SB 4, also known as Yes In God’s Backyard, introduces a streamlined development process, where colleges can bypass most of the state’s permitting and environmental review rules. Newsom signed SB 4 into law along with several other bills aimed at addressing the state’s housing shortage.
“California desperately needs to improve housing production, and the Governor’s actions today will help put us on a path to achieving that goal,” Sen. State Democrat Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “The time to say no to housing is almost over.”
SB 4 is scheduled to remain in place until 2036.
“It’s simple math,” Newsom said in a joint statement. “California needs to build more shelters and make sure the shelters we have are affordable.”
In-state community college tuition for some residents of Mexico
Under AB 91, students who live in Mexico within 45 miles of the California border can receive in-state tuition at one of nine community colleges. Each institution can only enroll up to 150 full-time equivalent students, and students are limited to lower-level classes.
The colleges incorporated by law are:
- Cuyamaca College.
- Grossmont College.
- Imperial Valley College.
- MiraCosta College.
- Palomar College.
- San Diego City College.
- San Diego Mesa College.
- San Diego Miramar College.
- Southwestern College.
Such residency programs are not common on the country’s northern border. In Maine, Canadian residents receive in-state tuition at the state’s public universities. And residents of the Canadian province of Manitoba can enroll in participating Minnesota public colleges at the state rate.
Simplifying the financial aid process for unauthorized immigrants
Under AB 1540, immigrants living in the US without legal authorization can now prove their eligibility for in-state college tuition using one of the state’s financial aid forms.
Before the legislation was passed, such students had to submit affidavits proving their residency status and eligibility for in-state rates separate from financial aid applications.
The process often confuses students and results in delays or denials of their financial aid applications, according to the California Student Aid Commission, a government group that works to make college easier. The commission expressed support for AB 1540.
Under the law, the Cal State and California community college systems must accept affidavits of eligibility as part of financial aid applications. The legislation calls for the UC system and California’s private colleges to do the same.
Returning Native American remains and artifacts
Newsom signed two bills — AB 226 and 389 — that aim to increase accountability for how the state’s public university systems handle Native American remains and cultural objects. Democratic Assemblymember James Ramos, the first Native American state legislator from a California tribe, introduced the two.
Decades of federal and state laws require colleges that receive government funding to develop a process to identify and return Native remains and artifacts to the appropriate tribes.
But the California State University system did not comply. A June report from the state auditor found that the system had nearly 700,000 collected human remains and cultural objects and that only 6% of its artifacts had been returned.
Under AB 389, the system must submit annual reports updating the state of its repatriation process.
The new law also requires Cal State campuses to hire full-time, experienced repatriation coordinators by July 2024, and it prohibits them from using Native American remains or cultural objects for teaching and research. purpose.
“AB 389 will ensure that decades after a federal and state requirement to repatriate the remains of our ancestors, CSU will take this responsibility seriously,” Ramos said in a statement.
AB 226 addresses the same issues in the University of California system, although less stringent measures are needed.
The system’s repatriation process must be audited in 2024 and 2026. The legislation also strongly encourages the system’s president to fund campus efforts to return Native artifacts and prohibit their academic use.
Doctoral degrees at Cal State
Under AB 656, California State University campuses can now offer professional or applied doctoral degrees in any subject.
Previously, the system had to work with UC campuses on joint doctoral degrees, though such deals were at UC’s discretion. Previous legislation also allowed Cal State to offer doctoral degrees in subjects such as public health and education.
The system will create up to 10 new doctoral programs per academic year under the new law, as long as they do not duplicate those offered by the University of California and meet other requirements.
“This is a revolutionary change for our system and for (San Diego State University), and signals the level of state support for our mission,” said Adela de la Torre, president of the university, a campus of Cal State, said in a statement. “The educational and social mobility opportunities it will provide to Californians eager to be part of tomorrow’s advanced workforce are unprecedented.”
San Diego State announced it had begun work on the new doctoral degrees shortly after Newsom signed the bill.
The community college-to-UC pipeline
AB 1291 aims to streamline the transfer process for community college students into the University of California system.
The process will begin as a pilot program at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA will offer priority admission for community college students transferring under eight majors. The university must select majors in 2026-27.
In the 2028-29 academic year, the UC system will select additional participating universities.
However, the legislation does not offer community college graduates a guaranteed path to admission into the UC system.
Student representatives from the community college and UC systems opposed it, calling it “hasty drafting and last-minute legislation without student input.” Alternative action is needed, they say, because some students start at community college and want to transfer within five years.