Democrats pushed through the California Dream Act, Part II, allowing undocumented students going to a UC, CSU or community college to apply for publicly funded financial aid, like Cal Grants. They say immigration status shouldn't matter.
"This is about promoting success people, promoting achievement. Those who work hard and become good students should not be punished for decisions made by their parents," said St. Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.
However, Republicans say it's not fair to spend limited tax dollars on students who wouldn't be able to work after graduating without a social security number. Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, read a letter from a concerned constituent.
"Before we begin taking care of non-citizens, I believe government should be asking is there more we can do for the citizens playing by the rules of our state," said LaMalfa.
Legal students get first priority for competitive grants, but illegal students would be eligible for the ones based on need. It's estimated 25,000 undocumented students graduate from a California high school every year. Many college students we spoke with say it's a good idea, even though it might mean a little less money for them.
"I think it's great. I believe that everyone should have access to education in the state of California," said Brandon Walker, a college senior.
"They should have a chance at it too. Like my family says, where two can eat, four can eat as well," said Lidia Tavarez, a college junior.
But some critics have a problem with their hard-earned tax dollars helping an undocumented student get a degree when that money isn't there for their own kids' basic education.
"We can barely put our children through school. Our schools are packed. My kids are in a 32-student classroom," said John Roessler, a truck driver from Riverside.
The Senate approved two changes that Gov. Jerry Brown asked for. The first one was to limit public aid to illegal students who are already eligible for instate tuition by attending a California high school for at least three years and second, postponing applications until 2013. That almost assures the governor will sign it once the Assembly OKs the changes.