CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard
|In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students|
States that Provide In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students
Postsecondary education is one of the best investments an individual can make in his or her economic future. Unfortunately, many undocumented students are denied this opportunity. Undocumented students who have successfully graduated from high school and have been admitted to a state college or university are often charged out-of-state tuition because schools do not recognize the students' state residency. Furthermore, these students are not eligible for federal financial aid to help defray the rising costs of education. As a result, many talented, undocumented students must forego college or university, negatively affecting not only their future opportunities, but also limiting the state’s skilled labor force. Tuition equity bills, which provide in-state tuition to undocumented students, give children who were brought to the United States by their parents the opportunity to achieve one of the tenets of the American Dream: the pursuit of higher education. States that have enacted tuition equity bills have a higher percentage of high school graduates who attend college, and contrary to popular belief, do not suffer from revenue loss.
What States Can Do
States can extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. According to the National Immigration Law Center, the typical requirements for tuition equity bills or policies require students to have:
- Attended a school in the state for a certain number of years;
- Graduated from high school in the state; and
- Signed an affadavit stating that they have either applied to legalize their status or will do so as soon as eligible.
Strength of State Policies: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students
|Does the state extend in-state tuition|
to undocumented students? 1
|District of Columbia|
|Rhode Island 2|
Notes on the Data
2. Unlike other states, Hawaii and Rhode Island used administrative policies instead of legislative action to extend in-state tuition to undocumented students. University of Hawaii's Board of Regents and Rhode Island's Board of Governors for Higher Institution adopted these policies. Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, National Immigration Law Center, May 2013.
3. In May 2013, Indiana passed a law stating undocumented students enrolled in state postsecondary educational institutions as of July 1, 2011 can pay in-state tuition. Any student enrolled after that date must pay out of state rates if s/he is not lawfully present in the United States.
What States Have Done
Currently, 18 states allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition. Sixteen of those states implemented tuition equity through state legislative action, while two states (Rhode Island and Hawaii) used administrative procedures. Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for High Education and Hawaii’s Board of Regents voted to implement tuition equity at their states’ public colleges and universities.
Organizations and Experts:
CFED thanks Tanya Broder from the National Immigration Law Center for her input and expertise on this policy issue.