Undocumented and Going to College: In-State Tuition

A few days ago we discussed the important facts all undocumented students need to know when thinking about applying to college.

While many undocumented students are treated as international students for the purposes of tuition and financial aid, some states consider undocumented students who meet other criteria like proof of residency and high school graduation to be residents for tuition purposes. The difference in tuition rates for residents and non-residents can mean the difference between being able to attend and not being able to attend college for many undocumented students.

Receive In-State Tuition There are currently 13 states that permit undocumented students to receive in-state tuition and public colleges and universities if they can prove their residency.

  • California On October 12th, 2001, California Governor Gary Davis passed a law that stated undocumented students could receive in-state tuition to California colleges and universities if they met certain requirements:
  1. Must have attended a California high school for 3 or more academic years, between grades 9 and 12 (does not have to be consecutive);
  2. Must have received a GED or an equivalent such as completing the California High School Proficiency Exam;
  3. Must register or be currently enrolled in an accredited public institution of higher education in California;
  4. Must file or plan to file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that he/she will apply for legal residency as soon as possible;
  5. Not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc).
  • Texas In 2001, Texas passed a law that allowed undocumented students who meet certain eligibility criteria to receive in-state tuition. The criteria is as follows:
  1. Must have attended a Texas high school for 3 or more academic years, between grades 9 and 12 (does not have to be consecutive) OR
  2. Must have received a GED or an equivalent;
  3. Must register or be currently enrolled in an accredited public institution of higher education in Texas;
  4. Must file or plan to file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that he/she will apply for legal residency as soon as possible;
  5. Not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc).
  • New York Undocumented students who meet the following criteria are eligible to receive in-state tuition at CUNY, SUNY, state-operated, or community colleges in New York:
  1. Have attended for at least two years and graduated from an approved New York State high school and apply for attendance at a SUNY, CUNY, state-operated, or community college within five years of receiving a high school diploma;
  2. Have attended an approved New York State program for General Equivalency Diploma preparation, received a GED issued in New York State, and applied for attendance at a SUNY, CUNY, state-operated, or community college within five years of receiving the GED;
  3. File affidavit state that s/he has filed or will file application for legal residence
  4. Show proof of domicile (rent checks, pay stubs with a NY address, high school records, etc.)
  • Utah According to HB 0144, undocumented students can receive in-state tuition if they meet the following criteria:
  1. Attend high school in Utah for at least three years or;
  2. Graduate high school in Utah or receive a GED or equivalent from Utah and;
  3. Register as an entering student at an institution of higher learning in Utah and;
  4. File affidavit state that s/he has filed or will file application for legal residence
  • Washington According to Washington HB 1079, undocumented students may receive in-state tuition in the state of Washington if they:
  1. Have earned a Washington high school diploma or GED;
  2. And have lived in Washington State for at least three years prior to receiving the high school diploma or GED;
  3. And have lived continually in Washington since earning the high school diploma or GED, and can meet college or university admission requirements expected of all other students;
  4. And apply to an institution of higher learning in Washington;
  5. And file an affidavit stating that they filed or will file application for legal residence;
  6. And submit the affidavit to the college or university by the deadline of that institution
  • Illinois HB 60 permits undocumented students to receive in-state tuition and fees to public colleges and universities if they meet the following criteria:
  1. The individual resided with his or her parent or guardian while attending a public or private high school in this State;
  2. The individual graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in this State;
  3. The individual attended school in this State for at least 3 years as of the date the individual graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
  4. The individual registers as an entering student not earlier than the 2003 fall semester; and
  5. In the case of an individual who is not a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States, the individual provides an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so.
  • Kansas According to HB 2145, Kansas students are eligible to receive in state tuition if they meet the following criteria:
  1. Attended a Kansas high school for three or more years; and
  2. Has graduated from a Kansas high school or received a GED; and
  3. At the time of enrollment, the student is not eligible for resident tuition at a postsecondary school in another state; and
  4. The person needs to provide an affidavit stating he/she will apply for legal residency when he/she is eligible to do so
  • New Mexico According to SB 582, undocumented students are considered residents of the state of New Mexico for tuition purposes if they:
  1. Have attended a secondary educational institution in New Mexico for at least one year; or
  2. Have received a general educational development (GED) certificate in New Mexico
  • Nebraska LB 239 allows undocumented students who meet the following criteria to be considered residents of Nebraska for tuition purposes:
  1. Have graduated from a Nebraska high school; or
  2. Earned a GED in the Nebraska; and
  3. Have been a state resident for three years, and
  4. Pledge to seek permanent legal status by filing an affidavit
  • Wisconsin Act 75 passed in Wisconsin permits undocumented students to qualify as residents of Wisconsin for tuition purposes if they:
  1. Graduated from a Wisconsin high school or received a high school graduation equivalency declaration from this state; and
  2. Were continuously present in this state for at least three years following the first day of attending a Wisconsin high school or immediately preceding the receipt of a declaration of equivalency of high school graduation; and
  3. Enroll in a UW System institution or Wisconsin technical college; and
  4. Provide the institution or college with proof that the person has filed or will file an application for a permanent resident visa with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as soon as the person is eligible to do so.
  • Maryland When legislators passed HB 470, undocumented students in Maryland became able to receive in-state tuition if they met the following eligibility criteria:
  1. Attend a public or nonpublic secondary school in Maryland for at least three years; and
  2. Graduate from a public or nonpublic secondary school in Maryland; or
  3. Received a GED or high school diploma in Maryland; and
  4. Register as entering students in a public institution in Maryland; and
  5. Provide to the an affidavit stating that they will file an application to become a permanent resident within 30 days after the individual becomes eligible to do so
  • Connecticut enacted legislation in 2011 that permits undocumented students to receive in-state tuition if they meet the following criteria:
  1. Reside in the state of Connecticut; and
  2. Attended an education institution in Connecticut; and
  3. Completed four years of high school education in Connecticut; and
  4. Graduated from a high school in Connecticut or the equivalent; and
  5. Is registered as an entering student, or is enrolled at a public institution of higher education in the state; and
  6. File an affidavit with the institution stating that they will file an application legalize their immigration status or will file such an application to do so as soon as they are eligible.
  • Rhode Island enacted legislation that permits undocumented students to receive in-state tuition if they meet the following criteria:
  1. Must have attended a Rhode Island high school for a minimum of three years; and
  2. Have graduated from the school or received the equivalent of a diploma; and
  3. Students must also sign an affidavit stating they have filed, or will file as soon as they are eligible, for citizenship. The policy will apply to students attending the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island.

May NOT Receive In-State Tuition A few states have enacted legislation that explicitly bar undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition benefits:

Stay tuned for a post coming soon about financial aid and scholarships for undocumented students.

Have more questions? Email Hope at hbrinn@thecollegiateblog.com or use the comment box below.