California has become the third state behind Texas and New Mexico to offer the children of illegal immigrants access to state funded financial aid.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."
The controversial measure, which passed the Democrat-controlled legislature on a party-line vote in September, represents a victory for immigrant-rights activists ahead of the 2012 presidential election. California is the nation's most populous state.
Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking," Brown said in a written statement issued by his office.
"The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," he said.
Last July, Brown signed a bill that allows illegal immigrants to receive privately-funded college scholarships.