Hot on the heels of the Dream Act, many states are debating whether illegal immigrants should qualify for in-state tuition rates at community colleges. Learn about the current law, Supreme Court rulings, and what several states have to say.
As the immigration debate rages on, a new aspect of the controversy has come to the forefront: should illegal immigrants qualify for in-state tuition at state colleges? A federal law on the books prohibits the practice, but many states have overridden that law to allow those who have grown up in their public schools to move on to higher education after graduation. Others oppose the idea of allowing people who are in the country illegally – and as such, are disqualified from becoming a member of the workforce – to reap benefits not available to legal residents of the country. We will take a look at both sides of the debate, and how some states are deciding to handle the issue of illegal immigration in their own education systems.
What the Law Says
A federal law passed in 1996 prohibits illegal immigrants
from paying in-state tuition
at public institutions of higher education, according to an article at FinAid
. The law 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 (in no less an amount, duration and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident."
Since the federal law was passed, several states have passed state laws allowing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants residing in those states, if the student has attended high