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California-Mexico Border: New Law Paves the Way for Cross-Border Education


In a move aimed at increasing cross-border educational opportunities and workforce diversity, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 91 into law. The legislation establishes a pilot program to provide discounted tuition rates for low-income students residing near the California-Mexico border. This initiative marks a significant step forward in addressing the economic and educational needs of the Cali Baja Mega Region, where over 170,000 individuals traverse the international border daily for various purposes.

This was discussed at the Imperial-Mexicali Binational Alliance (IMBA) celebrated on May 9 at CETYS University.

The law, modeled after a successful 2015 proposal for Nevada students near the California border, creates a five-year pilot program exempting eligible students living within 45 miles of the border from out-of-state tuition rates. The program aims to mitigate the financial burden for students in the region, fostering greater accessibility to higher education and cultivating a skilled cross-border workforce.

Vikki Carr, Director of Admissions and Records at Imperial Valley College, explained that there is already a link on their website with information in English and Spanish about this program.

“Once the Board of Governors approves the reciprocal agreement we are waiting for we can start accepting students. We are hoping that by fall we can have our first students coming in,” Carr said.

“We are excited because it will allow students from Mexicali to take courses at Imperial Valley College and then align themselves with local universities whether it be in Mexicali or at SDSU Imperial Valley,” said Alexis Villa, Vice President of Student Services & Equity at IVC.

Assemblymember David Alvarez the author of this bill, emphasized its potential to tap into an underutilized talent pool, stating, “This pilot program can unlock a significant untapped resource to prepare a more diverse population among our workforce.”

This bill proposes exempting nonresident, low-income students residing in Mexico and within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border from nonresident tuition fees when registering for lower division courses at a San Diego/Imperial County Community College Association (SDICCCA) College. It sets a limit of 200 students or 150 FTES per SDICCCA college per academic year for such exemptions.

Additionally, it mandates SDICCCA to establish rules for determining student residence, appeal procedures, and low-income status, with approval required by governing boards of community college districts. It permits the attendance of exempted nonresident students to count as resident FTES for state apportionment and clarifies exemptions for nonresident students who are both citizens and residents of foreign countries. Furthermore, it mandates SDICCCA to submit a report on exempted nonresident students’ demographics, attendance, and completion rates by January 1, 2028. The bill’s provisions are set to become inoperative on July 1, 2028, and repealed on January 1, 2029.

Imperial Valley College (IVC), a key player in binational educational initiatives, is ready to take a leading role in shaping the program’s implementation. Working closely with partner institutions such as the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) and Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) Universidad, IVC aims to create a seamless process for student enrollment and support services.

According to its website, IVC’s commitment to fostering cross-border educational opportunities is evident in its existing binational programs, including assistance with documentation, hosting of binational commencement ceremonies, and academic partnerships with Mexican institutions. The establishment of this pilot program represents a significant milestone in furthering these efforts and strengthening the economic vitality of the region.


For more information go to their link: https://www.imperial.edu/admissions/bi-national-program.html

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