Eight years after California's Legislature adopted a tuition break to help undocumented immigrants afford college, these students account for 1 percent or less of all students in the state's three higher education systems.
The data come as both Republican candidates for governor are calling for the practice to end, saying the cash-strapped state can't afford to let illegal immigrants attend state-supported colleges at resident rates.
The most recent data from the University of California, California State University and the California Community Colleges system show:• At UC's 10-campus system, undocumented students were no more than three-tenths of a percent of 220,000 students in 2007-2008.
• More than 68 percent of the 1,941 UC students who received the waiver of out-of-state tuition rates were actually U.S. citizens or "documented" immigrants who qualified under the terms of Assembly Bill 540. U.S. citizens and documented students consistently have been the greatest number of UC's AB 540 students, as they are called, since waivers began in 2002.
• In 2007-08, AB 540 students at UC received an estimated $26 million "value" with their tuition waivers. That added up to five-tenths of a percent of UC's "core" state-funded budget of $5.4 billion, said spokesman Ricardo Vasquez.
• At CSU's 23 campuses, 3,633 students are receiving AB 540 waivers in the current school year – less than 1 percent of all 440,000 students. The numbers have increased since the law passed in 2001, when CSU officials told the Legislature they expected about 500 students to take advantage of the waivers.
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