Undocumented students now eligible for in-state tuition at 3 Arizona universities

Jan 5, 2023, 4:35 AM

(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Undocumented students can now pay in-state tuition at Arizona’s three public universities after a voter-approved ballot measure went into effect.

“All three universities have implemented Prop 308 beginning this spring semester, so right now,” Arizona Board of Regents Chair Lyndel Manson told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Arizona voters narrowly passed Proposition 308 in November. In addition to in-state tuition, it makes undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.

To qualify, they must attend an Arizona high school or the home school equivalent for at least two years and graduate to qualify.

Manson said Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have not yet seen a significant uptick in enrollment from undocumented students as a result of Prop 308. She expects that to change in the fall.

“What we hope to see is increased applications from qualified high school graduates and those who have either stopped out on their education or simply didn’t go when they graduated high school, because they could not afford it,” she said.

Opponents have argued that in-state tuition and state financial aid are benefits that should only be made available to students with legal status.

Former state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita recently said it is unfair to provide benefits to undocumented students.

“This is a population that is here obviously illegally,” Ugenti-Rita said. “To grant them a consideration, special treatment, a discount flies in the face of our rule of law and order.”

Manson disagreed. She said the state benefits from making college more accessible to undocumented students, because it’ll lead to a more educated workforce.

“Right now we have a very low college-going rate in the state relative to the national average, and we would certainly like to see that increase,” Manson said. “These students are a significant portion of an opportunity to see that happen.

She said currently about 46% of high school graduates go on to college in Arizona compared with 60% nationally.

“That’s huge,” Manson said. “If the current trend continues, fewer than 17% of today’s 9th graders will have earned a university degree by 2029. That seems to me to be a bit of a frightening statistic.”

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Undocumented students now eligible for in-state tuition at 3 Arizona universities