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Citizenship and Access to Higher Education in Minnesota

On behalf of Robichaud, Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. posted in Naturalization on Thursday, June 14, 2012.

Citizenship does not only grant the right to vote and the privilege of participating fully in American democracy. It also extends an array of benefits, including improved access to higher education.

In today’s highly competitive job market, this educational access is a serious issue for many immigrants. More specifically, it is a concern for many Hispanics in Minnesota who lack citizenship.

Nationally, Hispanics are 15 percent of the population, but make up only 10 percent of the students in college. That disparity is significantly greater in Minnesota than it is in other states.

To respond, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to equalize tuition rates in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Undocumented students are not required to pay out-of-state rates. Instead, a flat-rate tuition, whereby they pay in-state rates, makes attendance at a MNSCU school more affordable for these students.

But the University of Minnesota is not part of MNSCU; it is a separate system. And the flat-rate tuition law does not apply there. As a result, undocumented students who are admitted to the U of M must pay out-of-state tuition.

That tuition can become quite costly financially. Indeed, it can prevent many students from attending the U at all. It becomes, in effect, an economic barrier.

Of course, even if the law does not require the University of Minnesota to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students who grew up here, the U could still choose to do so as a matter of policy.

Access to education is not only an important issue for Hispanics. It is an important issue for many other undocumented people from other backgrounds as well.

Source: “Hispanics face extra financial barriers in higher education without citizenship,” Minnesota Daily, Justin Miller, 5-30-12

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