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In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students Reports & Graphics Policy Brief

Overview

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
StateIn-state tuition?
Alabama   
Alaska   
Arizona   
Arkansas   
California   
Colorado   
Connecticut   
Delaware   
District of Columbia   
Florida   
Georgia   
Hawaii 2  
Idaho   
Illinois   
Indiana 3  
Iowa   
Kansas   
Kentucky   
Louisiana   
Maine   
Maryland   
Massachusetts   
Michigan   
Minnesota   
Mississippi   
Missouri   
Montana   
Nebraska   
Nevada   
New Hampshire   
New Jersey   
New Mexico   
New York   
North Carolina   
North Dakota   
Ohio   
Oklahoma   
Oregon   
Pennsylvania   
Rhode Island 2  
South Carolina   
South Dakota   
Tennessee   
Texas   
Utah   
Vermont   
Virginia   
Washington   
West Virginia   
Wisconsin   
Wyoming   

Notes on the Data

1. "State Bills on Access to Education for Immigrants," National Immigration Law Center, December 2013.

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. 

Resources

Organizations and Experts:

Acknowledgements

CFED thanks Tanya Broder from the National Immigration Law Center for her input and expertise on this policy issue. 

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