The issue of whether children of illegal immigrants are qualified to receive in-state college tuition has become very controversial. The definition of in-state tuition is the college tuition funds paid by residents of the state to a public college or university in that given state. There are federal laws that state giving in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants is breaking federal law. Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Title 8, Chapter 14, Sec. 1623(a) states: “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision for any post-secondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”
Federal Financial student aid requires the student receiving the aid be a US citizen, a permanent resident with a current green card or an eligible non-citizen. Some people feel that if federal funds are given to children of illegal aliens to go to college to learn more academically, this will only open the door to more illegal alien students to the state to apply for in-state educational funds for college.
While the Federal government is against handing out funds to the illegal alien students, some states disagree. California is one. In 2003 MALDEF lead a campaign to promote alien amnesty to the illegal alien students for in-state college tuition. Colorado is also pro giving financial aid to illegal alien students. A prime example of how doing this will cost the colleges and universities funds was give in an article, In-state college tuition for illegal aliens: If 1000 illegal alien students graduate from Colorado High School enroll at Colorado University-Boulder at in-state rates for four years, revenue losses would exceed $65 million (Out of state citizen tuition rates per student would =$20,346, in-state rates per student = $4,022. This would generate a monetary loss of one four year student =$65,296. If this figure was multiplied by the other 999 illegal aliens, the monetary loss would be astronomical ($65,230,704.00).
Texas, New York, Utah, Illinois, Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maryland (community colleges), Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Kansas have passed state laws that will provide in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens who have attended high school in the state for at least three or more years. Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia have passed similar legislation. Connecticut also tried to pass a similar law but it was vetoed by their governor.
The purpose of these state laws was to try to by-pass the federal law by the don’t ask, don’t tell philosophy if the students are illegal aliens. California law, AB 540 requires the students to file an affidavit that the students have or will apply to legalize their immigration status. California has also by-passed the federal law by basing in-state eligibility on attendance or graduation from an in-state high school.
Subsection 8 USC 1621(d) allows states to provide illegal aliens with both state and local benefits as long as the state law was enacted after August 22, 1996. This subsection does not override the restrictions in Subsection 8 USC 1623(a).
Arizona, Colorado and Georgia ban in-state tuition for illegal aliens and South Carolina will not allow illegal aliens to enroll in state colleges. Virginia has laws that require colleges and universities to charge higher tuition to illegal aliens. New legislation to ban in-state tuition for Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Mississippi and North Carolina are pending at this time. To learn more about each state’s position on the in-state tuition issue go to http://www.finaid.org/otheraid.org/otheraid/undocumentedstudents.phtml or http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW.
Children of illegal immigrants should qualify for in-state tuition only if they have earned the grades to compete with the in-state student residents. If they have earned it, they deserve the chance to apply. If their grades are not acceptable, then the answer is no.