Arizona approves discounted college tuition rate to undocumented students

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DACA Recipients in-state tuition
Credits:Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) at ASA

Arizona is now offering discounted college tuition rate to immigrants who graduate from state’s high schools even if they do not have legal immigration status.

On Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) eliminated a policy requiring that a student must be “lawfully present” to avail a discounted tuition rate in the state’s public universities.

Previously, students without legal immigration status have to pay the out-of-state tuition rate of $30,000 to seek higher education at the Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.

ABOR allowed a lower tuition rate to immigrant students in Arizona, who are under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA recipients are entitled to a tuition rate of around $16,000, higher than the rate for in-state students of around $11,000 but significantly lower than the out-of-state tuition rate.

In fact, DACA students have been paying in-state tuition fees for a while. However, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last year that DACA students are not entitled to avail in-state tuition rates.

Tuition rate policy change is “all about the future of America”

The policy change on Thursday extended the discounted tuition rate to all immigrant students who graduate in Arizona high schools even if they are not DACA recipients.

“We want to make clear that all students who graduate from an Arizona high school, within the parameters of this policy, are eligible for this non-subsidized rate,” said ABOR Executive Director John Arnold during a meeting at the Arizona State University’s Fulton Center.

In addition, Arnold stressed, “This is a permanent change. Of course, as federal law changes we may have to adjust the policy according to changes in state or federal law. But the way it’s structured now will carry us through until there is outside action.”

On the other hand, ABOR Chairman Larry Penley explained that the policy change is in line with Arizona’s goal— to increase the number of Arizonans with higher education and training after high school to 60 percent by 2030.

Penley said the decision to change the tuition rate policy is “about the future of Arizona.”