NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some States Give Illegal Immigrants Tuition Breaks

September 7, 2001

Texas has passed a law permitting illegal immigrants to pay resident rates at state colleges. And a handful of schools in other states -- most of them community colleges -- charge undocumented students in-state tuition rates.

Since out-of-state tuitions can be as much as 10 times higher than in-state rates, the issue is of considerable interest to the estimated 50,000 to 70,000 undocumented immigrants who graduated from U.S. high schools this year. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that communities have an obligation to educate illegal immigrants through 12th grade.

Now some states are considering following Texas' lead.

  • A bill pending in California would extend in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants at the 23-campus California State University system and 108 community colleges.
  • North Carolina has created a commission to study how it can afford to pass such a law.
  • Activists in Utah and Georgia are pushing for proposals in their states.
  • Some community colleges in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky and New York, acting locally, allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuitions.

Those who advocate the tuition breaks for illegals contend the policy encourages education among children of undocumented workers and ultimately could lead them to become naturalized citizens.

But opponents argue that illegal immigrants have no right to be in the U.S. in the first place and shouldn't expect taxpayers to fund their college educations.

Source: Russell Contreras, "Some Illegal Immigrants Get to Pay In-State Tuition at State Colleges," Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2001.

For text


Browse more articles on Government Issues