ASU: 30 students have benefited from reduced tuition covering undocumented immigrants

Arizona State University students cross the University Bridge. Photo by Arizona State University | Flickr

Approximately 30 students at Arizona State University have had their tuition reduced by as much as $12,700 annually thanks to a policy revision adopted by the Arizona Board of Regents last month.

ASU spokesman Jerry Gonzalez told Arizona Mirror the university conducted a review of its student records to identify who could be eligible for the new version of the tuition rate, officially called the “Non-Resident Tuition Rate for Arizona High School Graduates.” In some cases, students reached out to ASU to see if they were eligible. 

“So far, we’ve had around 30 students get their tuition rate adjusted,” Gonzalez said. 

While some immigrant students have been covered by that tuition rate for years, ABOR voted on Aug. 22 to expand it to all students (regardless of immigration status) if they have graduated from an Arizona high school and don’t qualify for in-state tuition. 

The tuition rate is only available to undergraduate students and is set at 150% of the in-state rate at the state’s three public universities. At ASU, that means the high school graduate tuition is $5,355 more expensive than the annual cost at an in-state rate – but $12,735 cheaper than the out-of-state rate.

Spokespeople with Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona said no current students there have had their tuition reduced because of the recent change. Both institutions expect students to take advantage of the new tuition rate next fall. 

Arizona residents who don’t have an immigration status are not eligible for tuition at in-state rates because of a voter-approved law from 2006 that prevents the state from subsidizing certain public benfits (like financial aid and in-state tuition) for undocumented immigrants. Arizona students without an immigration status mostly rely on private assistance to pay for college. 

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey told KJZZ he backs the tuition expansion ABOR approved last month, and he believes the board acted within state law. 

“I think we need to continue to follow the law,” Ducey said. “But we also want to make certain that Arizona high school graduates don’t have to leave our state to pursue opportunity.”

Arizona residents who don’t have an immigration status and attend community colleges still have to pay high tuition rates for their higher education.   

For the 2019-20 school year, tuition in the Maricopa County Community College District costs almost four times higher for non-residents ($85 per credit hour for residents vs $326 for out-of-state students). 

Every year, 2,000 youth without an immigration status graduate from Arizona high schools, a Migration Policy Institute study estimated.


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