A new report by the Center for American Progress highlights state actions that have increased access to post-secondary education for all students regardless of immigration status. The report outlines the importance of state legislation on tuition equity given the lack of federal progress on the issue. But it also highlights the differences in experiences for students depending on where they live.
For those students living in North Carolina where tuition equity is not the law, the barriers to access and completion of a post-secondary education and skills training for future jobs are higher. In Texas, where students are able to pay in-state tuition and access financial aid, the benefits have been real for those individuals and the broader economy and state. The costs are also minimal:
Of the 1.3 million students enrolled in Texas public universities and community, technical, and state colleges during fiscal year 2012, 20,049—or 1.1 percent—benefited from the Texas DREAM Act and paid more than $40 million in tuition and fees toward higher education. Meanwhile, only 2,819 Texas DREAM Act students received state-sponsored grant aid at a cost of $9.56 million—just 2 percent of the more than $430 million in state-supported grants distributed to more than 130,000 students across the state.
These small costs also do not take into account the enormous tax contributions made by undocumented immigrants. In 2010, undocumented Texas residents paid more than $1.6 billion in state and local taxes, a portion of which went toward supporting Texas’ public colleges and universities.
Since the start of the new year, 12 states have introduced tuition equity legislation. 29 states have some type of legislation providing tuition equity to students without documents or with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status. It is time for North Carolina to move forward with tuition equity.