Arizona Colleges Move to Extend Tuition Rate for Immigrants
Arizona universities are moving to expand access to a tuition rate paid by immigrants living in the country illegally who graduated from Arizona high schools after President Donald Trump's administration froze enrollment in a program that shielded them from deportation.
The state's three public universities have for several years allowed students from Arizona in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pay university tuition that's higher than their in-state classmates but lower than the standard rate for out-of-state and international students.
The Board of Regents is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to eliminate the requirement for students to participate in DACA because future students can't get into the federal program.
"The board recognizes that Arizona has made a significant investment in students who have graduated from Arizona high schools, and this rate is intended to encourage students to stay here or move back and complete their education here and contribute to the state," said Sarah Harper, a spokeswoman for the regents.
The move is the latest effort by the regents to provide access to immigrants, often called "Dreamers" based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act, who have spent much of their lives in Arizona but aren't legally in the country. Voters in 2006 barred in-state tuition or publicly funded scholarships for them. After President Barack Obama created the DACA program, universities and community colleges charged in-state tuition to students in the program but were rebuffed by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Instead, they now charge 50% more than the in-state tuition rate, which Harper said covers the cost of university attendance without state subsidy.
Officials at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona did not say how many students currently pay the special rate for DACA students.
The action by the regents comes after lawmakers this year declined to take up legislation that would have accomplished the same thing. A bill by Republican Sen. Heather Carter cleared the Senate when several Republicans joined all Democrats in support, but it never got a vote in the House.