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Under new legislation, California universities and state campuses would set aside $9.2 million for loans to undocumented students currently ineligible for federal financial aid.

Undocumented students enrolled in University of California or California State University schools face financial aid gaps of more than $5,000 a year. The state of California allows undocumented students to apply for Cal Grants, but students say it still falls short thousands of dollars needed to cover housing, books, and food. A lawmaker wants to close the funding gap for undocumented students, and proposes a new loan program for California public universities to assist these students (Senate Bill 1210).

" We think it's important to have because these students have worked hard and they have gotten, gained admission to the university and we want to give them every chance to succeed much like there counterparts who are attending the university," Christopher W. Carter, Director of Student Financial Support with the University of California said. "And so we think it's important to be able to put them on a level playing field. So we give them the same advantage, the same opportunity that we give their documented counterparts on campus."

Critics question why California taxpayers should have to pay education costs of students who are not in state legally. In response, Carter says that the illegal students consider themselves Californians and if state schools have admitted those students than university officials should be able to offer loans.

"We assume all students have a role in covering those costs and the most students do it through some combination of work and borrowing," Carter said "And right now these undocumented AB 540 students don't have the option to borrow and so they have to count disproportionately on working or going to some great lengths to modify their expenses and reduce their expenses so that they can manage to afford to attend the universities."

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