The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 prohibits access to in-state tuition benefits by undocumented students (section 8 USC 1623) It reads “…an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit…”
Several states have taken it upon themselves to override this provision by offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Conversely, three states have passed laws preventing these benefits.
States with In-State Tuition Laws
(Descriptions of each state below)
Map of States with Mandatory E-Verify Laws
Proposition 300 is a referendum approved by Arizona voters in November 2006. Proposition 300 provides that university students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or who do not have lawful immigration status, are not eligible for in-state tuition status or financial aid that is funded or subsidized by state monies.
Senate Bill 799 would allow children of undocumented immigrants to attend state universities at in-state tuition rates. The bill requires students to have graduated from a high school in Arkansas with at least three years of attendance. On March 25, 2009, the bill passed conference committee and was sent to the Senate floor. Gov. Beebe opposes the measure.
In 2001, California passed AB 540 allowing illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Attend a California high school for three or more years, Graduate from a California high school or receive a GED from California, and Provide an affidavit stating the student will apply for legalization once he/she is eligible to do so.
In 2006, Colorado passed HB 1023 preventing illegal aliens from accessing in-state tuition rates. In April 2009, the state Senate rejected SB 170
that would have reversed HB 1023 and allowed illegal aliens to access in-state tuition rates.
Passed in 2008, Georgia SB492 prohibits illegal aliens from obtaining in-state tuition rates.
Effective May 20, 2003, Illinois House Bill 60
allows illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Student has resided in Illinois with his/her parent or guardian while attending public or private high school, Student has graduated from an Illinois public or private high school or received a GED from IL, Student has attended an Illinois high school for at least three years, Student has registered to enter the university no earlier than the Fall 2003 semester, and Student provides the university with an affidavit stating he/she will file an application to become a permanent resident of the U.S. once he/she becomes eligible to do so
Effective May 24, 2004, Kansas HB2145 allows illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Attended a Kansas high school for three or more years, Has graduated from a Kansas high school or received a GED, At the time of enrollment, the student is not eligible for resident tuition at a postsecondary school in another state, and The person needs to provide an affidavit stating he/she will apply for legal residency when he/she is eligible to do so.
During the final minutes of the 2011 legislative session, Maryland lawmakers narrowly passed a bill that allowed illegal aliens who attended a Maryland high school for at least three years and hold a diploma to attend state colleges and universities at the discounted in-state tuition rate. Over the next several months, opponents of the bill collected enough signatures to repeal the bill through a ballot initiative, but supporters are challenging whether or not the state constitution allows a law to be repealed through the ballot initiative process. While both sides await a decision from state courts, the law has been put on hold.
Effective July 13, 2006, Nebraska Legislative Bill 239 allows illegal aliens to access in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Reside in Nebraska for at least three years prior to high school graduation/obtaining a GED, Graduate from a Nebraska public or private high school or obtain a GED, Live with a parent or guardian while attending high school, Be registered as an entering college student not earlier than the 2006 fall semester, Provide an affidavit stating their intention to become a permanent resident at their earliest opportunity. If the parent ceases to reside in Nebraska, the student can retain resident status if the student has a bona fide intention to reside in Nebraska and the affidavit needs to be signed by a notary
Effective March 15, 2005, New Mexico's SB 582
allows illegal aliens to access in-state tuition. Requirements: Attended a New Mexico high school for at least a year and Graduated from a New Mexico high school or obtained a GED in New Mexico
Effective August 6, 2002, New York's bill A9612-A
allows illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Attended a New York high school for two or more years, graduated with a New York high school diploma and applied for attendance to a college or university within five years of receiving diploma, or obtained a GED from New York and has applied for attendance to a college or university within five years of receiving GED, Supply an affidavit to the college or university stating that he/she will file for an application for legalization as soon as he/she is eligible to do so
Oklahoma passed HB1804 in 2008 which prohibits illegal aliens from receiving in-state tuition, but it allows the state's Board of Regents to award in-state tuition to illegal aliens who have attended an Oklahoma high school for at least two years and graduated. They must also sign an affidavit that states that they are trying to legalize their status or will do so within one year.
House Bill 2939, proposed in April 2009, provides that students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents can be considered state residents and pay state tuition if they attended a local high school for at least three years, graduated from it and have been accepted by a state university.
South Carolina passed HB 4400 in 2008 prohibiting illegal aliens from accessing public benefits, including in-state tuition rates.
House Bill 0808 by Rep. Stacey Campfield would require applicants seeking in-state tuition to be residing in the United States lawfully.
Texas allows illegal aliens to access in-state tuition rates through two different legislative actions. First, HB1403
which became effective on June 16, 2001 set guidelines for becoming a resident of Texas. Then, SB1528
, effective September 1, 2005, allows all Texas residents to have access to in-state tuition rates regardless of immigration status. Requirements: Lived in Texas three years prior to high school graduation or obtaining a GED from Texas or Resided in Texas the (full) year prior to enrollment in an institution of higher education, and Provide an affidavit stating intent to apply for Permanent Residency when eligible to do so
Effective July 1, 2002, Utah's HB144
allows illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. Requirements: Attended high school in the state of Utah for three or more years, Graduated from a high school in this state or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in this state, Registers as an entering student at an institution of higher education not earlier than the fall of the 2002-03 academic year, and In addition to these requirements, a student without lawful immigration status shall file an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he is eligible to do so.
Effective July 1, 2003, Washington's HB 1079
allows illegal aliens access to in-state tuition. Requirements: Resided in Washington for at least three years and have completed a full senior year of high school in Washington and have graduated from a Washington high school or Received a GED in Washington and have lived in the state for three full years prior to receiving the GED and Continuously lived in Washington immediately after receiving diploma or GED and Provide an affidavit stating the student will apply for legalization when he/she is eligible to do so
The state legislature approved in-state tuition for illegal aliens who graduate from Wisconsin high schools as part of the state's 2009 budget. The budget was passed on June 26, 2009.
- In-State Tuition
- DREAM Act