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Here Are The States Offering Undocumented Residents Access to Financial Aid For College

According to the Pew Research Center, there are roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants that reside in the U.S. as of 2016, which includes about 700,000 people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In total, the group represents 3.4 percent of the country’s total population. Undocumented students are a subset of this group and face various roadblocks due to their legal status, including obstacles that prevent them from receiving equal educational opportunities as U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents. 

Most universities don’t offer in-state tuition to undocumented students and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is not available for undocumented students either. For those who live in states that don’t offer in-state tuition, it means taking on huge loans and working multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or sometimes, foregoing college altogether.

Yet, there are a handful of states in the U.S. that are doing their part to help undocumented students receive some sort of financial assistance. Whether that’s legislation extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who meet specific requirements or receiving state financial aid, there is help. 

The following U.S. states allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid.

Credit: Nicole Honeywell / Unsplash

1. California

In California, there were 200,150 students that were participating in the DACA program as of August 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute. This means that many of those students received some kind of financial assistance when it came to their education. State law (AB 540, AB 130, and AB 131) provides undocumented students with in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid. There are 23 campus options for the California State University system and 9 campus options of the University of California (UC).

The average cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,680

2. New Mexico

New Mexico is doing it’s part when it comes to helping undocumented students pursue higher education. The state offers in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students through SB 582. The state also has one of the lowest costs when it comes to in-state tuition and fees.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,920

3. Oregon

Back in April 2013, Oregon adopted a state policy, HB 2787, granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. This has opened up countless opportunities for many who are pursuing college. 

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,360 

4. Minnesota

Minnesota offers in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented students through the MN Dream Act. This includes over two dozen colleges and universities offer in-state tuition to all students, regardless of status, residence, or MN Dream Act eligibility.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $11,300

5. Texas

The Lone-Star State is certainly the biggest state in the country and is also one a huge resource when it comes to assisting aspiring colleges students. In Texas, undocumented students may qualify for Texas State Financial Aid. The state in 2001 became the first in the nation to allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition to public universities. They only need to have lived in Texas for the three years before they graduated from high school.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,840

6. Washington

Undocumented students are eligible to receive in-state tuition as of 2003 via HB 1079. In 2014, the state also enacted the Washington State DREAM Act into law, making undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,480

7. New Jersey

In 2013, New Jersey gave in-state tuition benefits to undocumented immigrants. Last year, undocumented students were finally able to apply for state financial aid after Gov. Phil Murphy signed bill NJ S 699 (18R) opening up state funds for undocumented immigrants going to college.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,870

The following states allow for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students 

(This includes the previous 6 mentioned states that allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid)
Credit: Charles DeLoye / Unsplash

1. Colorado

In 2013, state lawmakers in Colorado created SB 13-033 which allows undocumented children to follow their American dreams. They allowed them to pay the significantly cheaper in-state tuition to go to state colleges instead of higher out-of-state prices.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,800

2. Connecticut 

In 2011, the Connecticut General Assembly approved a law which offers undocumented students residing in Connecticut in-state tuition benefits at the state’s public colleges. HB 8644 not only allows for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for college, but it also states that students only have to attend two years of high school in the state to be eligible.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,390 

3. Florida

Former Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 851 into law in 2014. The measure allows undocumented students who spent three consecutive years in a Florida high school and applied to an educational institution within 24 months of graduating to apply for and out-of-state tuition waiver.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,360 

4. Illinois

Undocumented students in Illinois are eligible for in-state tuition and private scholarships through Public Act 093-007 (In-State Tuition) and SB 2185 (Illinois DREAM Act). Students can also access the state’s Monetary Award Program, aka MAP grants.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,620

5. Kansas

In 2018, HB 2145 gave undocumented students in Kansas access to in-state tuition. To qualify, students must have attended a Kansas high school for three or more years.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,230 

6. Maryland

In Maryland, things are a bit different compared to other states when it comes to financial assistance. Undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition under SB 167, however, they must attend a community college before qualifying for in-state tuition at a public university.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,580

7. Nebraska

The state has provided in-state tuition to undocumented students for the last 13 years. LB 239 states that undocumented students must have attended high school for at least three years before graduating high school or receiving a GED.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,270

8. Utah

Utah gave undocumented students access to in-state tuition back in 2002. HB 144 states that people are eligible for in-state tuition if they attend high school in Utah for three or more years and must file or be willing to file when able an application for residency.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,790

9. New York

Through the Dream Act, undocumented students who meet the Tuition Assistance Program requirements, currently received access to state financial aid. Previously, New York had allowed all high school students who graduated from a New York high school an opportunity to receive in-state tuition at two local colleges, City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY).

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $7,940

10. Oklahoma

HB 1804 made it possible for undocumented students in the state can receive in-state tuition if they graduated from a private or public Oklahoma high school and were accepted to a school in Oklahoma’s state university system.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,460

11. Rhode Island

While it might be the smallest state in the country, it’s still doing its part to help undocumented college students by offering in-state tuition. The Board of Governors for Higher Education voted unanimously to give undocumented students in-state tuition if they graduated from a Rhode Island high school and sign an affidavit saying they will apply for legal residency when eligible.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,230

12. Virginia 

Virginia still has work to do but, currently, students on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for in-state tuition. However, there are people fighting to expand that benefit to all undocumented residents of the state.

The average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,820

READ: This Latino College Grad Is Showing How To Persevere Against All Odds In the Face Of Ignorance And Racism

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