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Basic Facts About In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students (NILC)

“They are part of our future, so it only makes sense to lower barriers to additional educational advancement and achievement. The more education they attain, the better positioned they are to become contributing citizens,” said Pennsylvania State Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R), after introducing legislation for his state to offer in-state tuition to qualified undocumented students.

  • Having an educated workforce is a key driver of economic growth and the most important indicator of one’s potential earnings over a lifetime.
  • By 2020, 61% of jobs in North Carolina will require higher education. Job growth is expected to increase by 21% in the same period.
  • So far, 12 states have passed legislation allowing certain undocumented graduates of high school who have lived in a state for a set period of time to pay in-state tuition rates for college. Others have introduced legislation.
  • Texas was the first state to pass legislation allowing eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition in 2001. Signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R), the bill received near unanimous support.
  • Maryland voters passed a referendum in 2012 to allow qualified undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition.
  • The estimated total net benefits to the economy of one class of undocumented students who take advantage of Maryland’s in-state tuition policies are approximately $66 million in 2011 dollars.
  • Studies show that 31% more Latino non-citizens enroll in higher education in states with inclusive in-state tuition policies.
  • Inclusive in-state tuition policies reduce the dropout rate of non-citizen Latinos by an estimate of 14%, studies show.

“Are we going to send these young people on a path to be successful and be part of the Texas success story? Or are we going to prohibit them because we’re not going to allow them to be able to afford to go to a university, and basically put them over onto government subsistence?” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)


Carnevale, Anthony, Stephen J. Rose and Ban Cheah. “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations and Lifetime Earnings.” Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and Workforce. Published August 2011.
Carnevale, Anthony and Nicole Smith, “A Decade Behind: Breaking out of the Low-Skill Trap in the Southern Economy.” Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and Workforce. Published July 2012.
Gindling, T.H. and Marvin Mandell, “Private and Government Fiscal Costs and Benefits of the Maryland Dream Act.” From the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR)
The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, “The Effects of In-State Tuition for Non-Citizens: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.” 2011.