(CN) - California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will help illegal immigrants qualify for Cal Grants and other state financial aid.
AB 131 was written by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, and joins Cedillo's AB130 to complete the California Dream Act.
"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a statement. "The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us."
Under current state law, illegal immigrants can pay in-state tuition rates provided that they graduated from a California high school and can prove they're on the path to becoming legal residents of the United States. AB 130, which Brown signed in July, opened up private scholarship and loan money for higher education, regardless of immigration status.
The more contentious AB 131 allows illegal immigrants to apply for California-taxpayer-funded financial aid. It requires recipients to meet the same requirements as all applicants, but they may only receive aid after all other legal residents have received their state financial aid.
The California Department of Finance estimates that 2,500 students will qualify for Cal Grants as a result of AB 131, at a cost of $14.5 million. The overall Cal Grant program is funded at $1.4 billion, according to Brown's press office
The full California Dream Act goes into effect on July 1, 2012.
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