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Should Illegal Immigrants Get In-State Tuition Rates? April 23, 2009

Posted by jayejfenderson in Articles.
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College Board has announced that it is backing the Dream Act, a bill that would, according to U.S. News & World Report “allow students who have lived in the country since age 15 to apply for conditional legal residence after graduating from high school. They would then be able to work and pay in-state college tuition rates. Those who attend college or join the military could ultimately become citizens. The College Board says that in addition to helping the estimated 360,000 undocumented students of college age now, the Dream Act could open the doors to higher ed for 715,000 more students between the ages of 5 and 17 who are living in the country illegally.”

It is a controversial issue, for sure.  On the one hand, I think everyone should have the opportunity to go to college, and I do support allowing undocumented students to enroll in college in the U.S. But it gets a little dicey for me when we talk about giving those students in-state tuition discounts since we already have a HUGE problem of enrolling academically qualified low-income U.S. citizens in college. I get nervous that giving undocumented students in-state tuition rates will add enormous pressure to our already inadequate financial aid system and end up making college admission to state schools, like the UC’s even more competitive than they already are. Just last year, the UC system made the decision to enroll more out-of-state students because they needed to increase their revenue.

I haven’t researched this adequately enough to come to a definite conclusion, but those are just my initial thoughts.  I’d love to hear what you think about the Dream Act.  Should illegal immigrants be allowed to enroll in college and pay in-state tuition rates?  Do you agree with the College Board’s decision to support the Dream Act?



1. Jeff Dotts - June 4, 2009

It’s important to put the issues of immigration and the issues of education into separate buckets for discussion. The DREAM Act is a matter of education and, on a more macro scale, the request for a cultural paradigm shift.
Children of undocumented immigrants are promised a K-12 education once in America. The recent trend, especially among immigrants from Latin America, however is an increase in drop-out as graduation nears. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests this is a result of youth seeing a narrowing of opportunity following graduation. As an issue of education, we can easily connect drop-out to increases in incarceration, higher demographic rates of poverty, and increased economic pressure on the social services system. The reality is that immigrant youth have been in public schools, learning to be Americans – in identity and spirit – with the same aspirations and dreams. Supporting them for four more years of higher education is far less costly than supporting them indefinitely in prisons and with social services. The 10 states that, since 2001, have passed laws allowing undocumented students who graduate from in-state high schools to qualify for in-state college tuition have not experienced a large influx of new immigrant students who have displaced native-born students or added financial burdens to their education systems.
In fact, these measures tend to increase school revenues by bringing in tuition from students who otherwise would not be in college.
Kids coming to America frequently don’t have a choice. But when they do choose to take advantage of the educational system, shouldn’t we empower them to take full advantage?

jayejfenderson - June 4, 2009

Thank you for this insightful comment! You bring up some excellent points to ponder.

2. Charity Dell - June 11, 2009

Most Americans forget that the majority of undocumented illegals have come to the US to WORK, not just loaf around and ask for free “hand-outs.”
Going to college to obtain an education is an extension of preparing for work and ultimately, preparing to become self-sustaining and economically fit for the future. Those children of illegals who aspire to university-level study are not likely to be involved with drugs and criminal activities. Many of them also work to help their families eat and pay bills.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that supporting these students for college/university is much more cost-effective than having to pay $50,000 or more a year to house them in prison, or spend thousands
more trying to “support generations of a welfare family”. Most college graduates can expect to enter white-collar professions and managerial
positions, and the “illegal student” supported by my tax dollars just might become the “sharp young surgeon” who repairs my heart a few years from
As the richest nation on the planet, we could easily “afford” to educate ALL the young people who live in our country–native and/or undocumented–by just transferring a mere FRACTION of what this country
spends on two foreign wars EVERY MONTH to colleges and universities.
This would stimulate another growth industry–education–and thousands more teachers can be employed to instruct these students. Employed teachers spend money and thus help to stimulate the local economies in which they reside. More students=more teachers=a boost to countless retailers….a win-win situation for all Americans and most of these college graduates could take their place as productive citizens in society.

3. God loves ALL of HIS creation. God pleasers. - May 3, 2010

I am in favor of helping illegal immigrants to get funds for schooling and higher education in colleges and universities. I hope those who are pursuing the American dream due to extreme poverty in Mexico, where only a few elite and the government have financial security. Mexicans are very hard working on jobs and the few that I know have learned english and are here to work and help there impoverished parents at home; something more Americans should value, taking care of aging parents to be able to survive and have the much needed medical care and some of the ammenities that we have here in the U.S. such as indoor plumbing, electricity, and adequate housing space per person. Mexicans are not trying to get their families rich, or take our jobs, they just dream of better opportunities for themselves
and due to their strong family ties want to help to take care of famil members back home to provide proper food ,clothing and shelter. The question Americans need to ask themselves is are we so selfish that we will not help our fellow human beings who cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for the proper documentation to pursue the American dream and get an education or further their education which will allow them to be gainfully employed or do we prefer to look down on them as though they are not human and just call them “Ignorant” and send them back home among the poverty and filth that kills so many of the young and just let them believe the U.S. is only the land of opportunity if your skin is white and you do not come from Mexico. We can have educated intillects or uneducated criminals (which sometimes when one is pushed against a wll to survive may be the only option that appears feasible). I opt for helping All human beings regardless of their national origin or social status (financially) to have the opportunity to become educated, productive, members and share in “The American Dream.” All men Are created equal in God’s eyes and why was this part of our begining as a country if we were not willing to adhere to it in regards to ALL people not just those born and able to Pay (financially) to stay in this country. God made human kind in His image, this does not exclude Mexicans. There is good and bad in all nationalities those who want to do good why not allow them the opportunity. We can promote the good in all races if we will just give those who pursue good, the opportunity to have get a hand up not a handout with hard work.

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