Heated emotional debates have filled legislative halls in several states this session over whether to allow undocumented students to attend college at in-state tuition rates. With the faltering economy and limited skills-based jobs, improving college affordability is becoming a bigger priority. But not everyone is in agreement on who should have access to college.
Since 2001, 10 states--California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington--have passed laws allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public institutions, provided they meet certain requirements. In general, students must live in the state, have attended high school for a specified period (one to three years), and have graduated or received their GED.
Arizona, Colorado and Georgia laws specifically prohibit undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates. South Carolina goes one step further and prohibits undocumented students from enrolling at any public postsecondary institution.
This year, at least 45 bills have been introduced on this topic in 23 states, with some allowing and some prohibiting in-state tuition. Alabama, Nevada and West Virginia have "Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act" legislation in committee that would prohibit undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition or financial aid.