Removal Of Barriers For Undocumented Students To Obtain In-state Tuition

Over the last several months several states have taken steps to make it easier for undocumented noncitizen students who live in their states to go to college there. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State announced that he expects to sign legislation that provides grants to students whose families meet income and residency guidelines.  This means that Washington will become the 5th state after California, Illinois, Texas and New Mexico to offer this kind of financial aid to students brought into the country illegally by their parents.

Meanwhile two bills giving such students the opportunity to qualify for in-state tuition rates are making their way through the Tennessee Legislature. One would apply to high school graduates whose parents are undocumented immigrants and the other would let any undocumented immigrant who has attended school in Tennessee for at least five years go to college as an in-state student. While these bills have yet to become actual law, and their fate remains uncertain, the movement of these bills through committee – the first (H.B. 1929) has passed out of committee and the second (H.B. 1992) is still under consideration- represents a shift from the hard line views which have animated the debate around immigration matters in this state.  “All we are saying is if you are a student who has gone to school in Tennessee and are now ready to go to college to be a more productive citizen, you can pay in-state tuition,” said state Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis.

One possible complication should these bills pass in to law is that The Save Act, passed in Tennessee in 2012, mandates that state agencies check the immigration status of anyone who applies for public benefits. Officials of the University of Tennessee system there have interpreted that to mean they cannot accept undocumented immigrants as students. If each of these bills makes it to the Governor’s desk, it is urged that they include a revision of the provision of The Save Act which imposes this requirement.

If either of these bills did pass, Tennessee would join Texas and several other Southern states – which tend to oppose immigration reform – to give the children of undocumented aliens the opportunities that the children of American citizens enjoy as far as collegiate education is concerned.

The attorneys and staff at the Shulman Law Group, LLC stay current on all of the important developments affecting immigration law in this country including educational opportunities for the children of undocumented aliens.. Most significantly, the attorneys have significant experience advising their clients about the current law in New Jersey regarding students’ eligibility for instate tuition. The attorneys and staff at the firm seek to keep their clients completely apprised of all developments in these areas so that families do not miss opportunities to see the children advance educationally.