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Does immigration status affect access to in-state tuition rates?

For immigrants and citizens alike, getting a good job depends greatly on getting an education beyond high school. With the cost of college so high, however, the availability of in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities is very important.

Are immigrants who do not have citizenship able to benefit from in-state tuition? The answer depends on which state an immigrant lives in.

Under Obama administration’s Deferred Action policy, young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children can apply for apply for two-year deportation waivers that enable them to work or pursue an education. But states differ widely on the availability of in-state tuition for immigrants seeking a college degree.

At least 12 states have laws that enable noncitizen immigrants to pay in-state tuition based on a claim of residency. But six other states have enacted laws specifically prohibiting them from eligibility for in-state tuition. Yet another state, Alabama, is facing legal challenges to its attempts to completely bar such immigrants from attending state colleges.

Minnesota is on neither of these lists. But tuition rates are as important to immigrant students here as they are anywhere else. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be a prohibitive barrier for many students, both immigrants and citizens alike.

And then there is the question of financial aid itself. In California, the state has been charging immigrant students the lower, in-state tuition rate to immigrants. But the state has not let them these students receive financial aid. Beginning on January 1, however, California will make this aid available to immigrants.

Clearly the issues regarding tuition rates and access to financial aid are evolving fast, with important consequences for immigrants seeking to build new lives.

Source: “Immigrants to Pay Tuition at Rate Set for Residents,” The New York Times, Richard Perez-Pena, 11-19-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Minnesota immigration page.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We can help.

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