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FLASHBACK: California law to grant student loans to non-U.S. citizens staying in California illegally

Illegal immigration

(NaturalNews) Taxpayers in cash-strapped California will be forced to subsidize higher education for illegal immigrants under a new law proposed recently that would permit them to get state-backed loans because they cannot get federal school loans under current legal restrictions.

The effort is being seen as one to provide public assistance to children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. The legislation, Senate Bill 1210, "would establish loan programs at the state's two public university systems for students who have no access to the relatively low-interest federal student loans," the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Initial funding for the program, which will be called the "California Dream Loan Program," if the legislation passes as expected, would be $9.2 million -- $2.3 million from the universities themselves (which are both recipients of federal funding via federally backed student loans for American citizens and legal residents) and $6.9 million from state taxpayers, according to a news release from the office of the measure's author and chief sponsor, Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Huntington Park/Long Beach.

'These students have worked hard'

University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and former chief of the Department of Homeland Security, spoke in favor of the legislation at a Senate Education Committee hearing recently.

"These students have worked hard to achieve their dream of a university education, and I believe we should work as hard to ensure that they have every chance to succeed, including providing them access to equivalent resources as their campus peers," Napolitano said, according to a transcript of her testimony.

As governor of Arizona, Napolitano, a Democrat, repeatedly opposed or vetoed legislation that would have tightened up the state's border with Mexico. As Homeland Security secretary, she approved of President Obama's executive actions that essentially granted amnesty to illegal alien children currently in the country, some say in violation of U.S. law.

The California university system says it estimates that about 1,200 California State University (CSU) students and 1,300 UC students would eventually seek such loans. UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the program would initially cost UC about $1.6 million per year, though, if the loans are structured well, they could become cost-neutral. CSU's annual cost would be roughly $900,000, according to spokesman Michael Ulhenkamp.

Because of the struggling economy, some analysts have said, the default rate for U.S. student loans has been steadily rising. In a September 2013 press release, the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees the student loan program, announced:

The national two-year cohort default rate rose from 9.1 percent for FY 2010 to 10 percent for FY 2011. The three-year cohort default rate rose from 13.4 percent for FY 2009 to 14.7 percent for FY 2010.

The trend to provide taxpayer-supported school services to illegal alien children living in California began in earnest in 2001, when the state became one of the first to allow such students who attended high school in the state to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities. Last year, students who entered the U.S. illegally became eligible for state tuition aid, or Cal Grants.

What happens after graduation?

But without access to federal Pell Grants or loans, the students still have financial aid gaps averaging up to $6,000 a year for UC students and $3,000 for those at CSU, the news release said.

"We invest in California students from an early age, and many of them have done what we've asked them to do: work hard, study and pursue a higher education," Lara said.

"If we're serious about strengthening our economy then we must remove obstacles for our future workforce when they're close to the graduation finish line," he said.

There are plans for UC Berkeley to test a similar school-provided loan program for the coming school year, using funding that Napolitano had set aside to assist students living in the country without authority to do so, according to Nohemy Chavez, a counselor with UC Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program.

Some students see trouble looming on the horizon. While the loan program will be "a great temporary solution," according to UC Berkeley student Jesus Lopez, whose family came to the U.S. illegally when he was seven, "once we graduate, those students who are not legally authorized to work will encounter another problem -- paying back those loans," he said.





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