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US States that Offer In-State Tuition Rates to Undocumented Students (and What to Do if Your State Isn’t One of Them)

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Education is your birthright. Discover which states offer in-state university tuition rates to undocumented students & what to do if yours doesn’t.

In the fictional world of The Fosters – a TV show about two moms raising a multicultural family that includes five biological, adopted and fostered teenagers – one of the teenagers, Callie, who barely survived the foster care system, decides to fight for her friend Ximena’s right to stay in the US, where Ximena has lived, undocumented, since she was two years old.

 

In a public speaking appearance of a political leader trying to deport undocumented immigrants, Callie asks:

 

“What is an American? What makes you an American and me an American, but not Ximena, who has lived here her entire life, gone to school, graduated, worked, paid taxes, and loved this country just as much as anyone who was born here? This [she shows Ximena’s photo] is an American.”

 

 

Ximena’s storyline mirrors that of many teenagers living in the US, but Ximena is part of only a small percentage of teens who get to attend college.

 

Most universities across the country don’t offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, which is significantly cheaper than what students pay to attend an out-of-state university. Further, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is not available for undocumented students either.

 

That means that, for most undocumented teenagers – and adults – higher education is not affordable, and simply out of reach.

 

Thankfully, some states have decided to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. Today, we’re going to break down tuition costs by state by state. We’ll also share which states allow you to apply for Federal financial aid, and what to do if the numbers still don’t work for you – whether you live in one of these states or not.

 

How the Tuition Rates are Calculated

 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “18 states have provisions allowing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students,” and 16 of them “extend in-state tuition to undocumented students through legislation.”

 

We’ll cover all 18 (actually 19) states in this article, starting with those that offer both in-state tuition and state financial aid. Under each state is a listing of where you can find universities that offer these lower rates. Then, we will discuss your options if you live in a state that doesn’t offer in-state tuition or state financial aid.

 

It’s important to note that all college tuition numbers featured in this article are based on College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges and NCES, IPEDS Fall 2015 Enrollment data. You can download the Excel sheet that aims to represent 2017-2018 tuition and fees across states by clicking here. All of the costs refer to 4-year public universities, and are presented in US dollars.

 

US States that offer In-State-Tuition Rates to Undocumented Students, and Applications for State Financial Aid

 

California

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,680

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $32,590

 

A good place to start your research about getting higher education in California is to check out the 23 campus options of California State University and the 9 campus options of the University of California.

 

Minnesota

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $11,300

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $20,890

 

Check out this map of 54 campus options in the Minnesota system of state colleges and universities. The institutions marked in green are Minnesota state universities, and the institutions marked in blue are Minnesota state colleges. Click on a university or college’s name to be taken to a page with more information about it.

 

New Mexico

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,920

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $20,060

 

Here’s the state’s official list of four-year and two-year public postsecondary institutions.

 

Oregon

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,360

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $30,300

 

Here’s the state’s official list of Oregon’s 7 public universities.

 

Texas

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,840

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $26,210

 

You can find a list of the 7 public institutions in the Texas State University System here.

 

Washington

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,480

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $29,300

 

Here’s the state’s official list of 6 four-year public colleges and universities. As in other states, some of them have more than one location across the state.

 

Other States that Offer In-State College Tuition to Undocumented Students

 

Here are the additional states who have laws allowing undocumented students to get a more affordable college education by paying in-state tuition in the states they live in, just like their fellow documented students, according to NCSL.

 

The difference is that these states do not offer state financial aid to undocumented students, which means not everybody is going to be able to afford to go to college after all.

 

If that’s you, skip over to the next section of this article, about what to do if you’re from a state that doesn’t allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at all, because we have a solution that may help you too.

 

Colorado

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $10,800

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $30,600

 

Here’s the state’s official list of 31 public, nonprofit higher education institutions in Colorado.

 

Connecticut

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,390

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $29,020

 

Click here for Connecticut’s official website for its 17 state colleges and universities.

 

Florida

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,360

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $21,880

 

Here’s a list of Florida’s 12 public universities. If you click the link, you’ll see a long list that’s marked in blue, with arrows at the end of each line. Click the first one – “University Home Page” – and you’ll see a list of the public university options.

 

Illinois

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,620

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $23,480

 

Check out this 16 page PDF document, titled “12 Reasons to Stay in Illinois” (no need to download – just click the link and you’ll see it). The second page of the document includes a quick list of Illinois’ 12 public universities, which is actually a table of contents. The rest of the document includes important information for people considering enrollment.

 

Each university gets its own page of information, and some of these pages also include information for undocumented students.

 

Kansas

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,230

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $23,910

 

Here’s Kansas’ official list of its public universities and colleges. The state also offers the same list in an accessible page for sight-impaired website visitors.

 

Maryland

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $9,580

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $22,060

 

Click here for a glance at Maryland’s higher education institutions, including public universities and colleges.

 

Nebraska

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,270

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $20,310

 

Check out Nebraska’s official list of the state’s higher education institutes. You’ll find anything from public and private universities and colleges, through community college and associate’s degree universities, to cosmetology and massage schools.

 

Utah

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $6,790

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $20,730

 

Here’s Utah’s official list of colleges and universities, including the colleges and universities in Utah System of Higher Education.

 

New Jersey

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $13,870

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $26,600

 

Here’s New Jersey’s official college and university directory by sector.

 

New York

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $7,940

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $19,500

 

You can find New York state’s official directory of university and college campuses here.

 

In addition to these states, it’s important to include three more.

 

According to NCSL, “two states – Oklahoma and Rhode Island – allow in-state rates to undocumented students through Board of Regents decisions,” even though it’s not legislated.

 

Oklahoma

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $8,460

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $22,520

 

Here’s Oklahoma’s official list of colleges and universities, starting with the public ones.

 

Rhode Island

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,230

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $28,910

 

This is a small state, yet it offers 4 public higher education institutions, one of which is offered in multiple locations. Rhode Island’s official websites don’t seem to offer a list of its public higher education institutions, but you can start your research with this quick list from Wikipedia.

 

But what about the third state we mentioned?

 

NCSL reports that, “in April 2014, Virginia’s attorney general started granting in-state tuition to those covered under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA).

 

UC Berkeley explains that DACA “is a kind of administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth, who came to the United States when they were children, from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit. The program expires after two years, subject to renewal.”

 

For more information, including what are the requirements for DACA, how to apply, and how to renew it, click here.

 

Virginia

 

Average 2017-18 cost of in-state tuition and fees: $12,820

Average 2017-18 cost of out-of-state tuition and fees: $33,270

 

Here’s Virginia’s official list of higher education institutions, starting with public universities and colleges.

 

What About Undocumented Students in States that *Don’t* Allow In-State College Tuition to Undocumented Students? Or Students Who Can’t Afford the In-State Tuition Either?

 

According to NCSL, if you live in Hawaii or Michigan, you have options at two specific universities – the University of Hawaii and the University of Michigan – as both universities have adopted policies that give “undocumented students… access [to] in-state tuition.”

 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case everywhere. NCSL reports that “three states – Arizona, Georgia and Indiana – have passed legislation that specifically prohibits undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates. Alabama and South Carolina go one step further and prohibit undocumented students from enrolling at any public postsecondary institution.”

 

Fortunately, though, we live in a time when many of us have access to the same resource – the Internet – and here, at University of the People, we’re dedicated to making sure that means as many people as possible have access to higher education.

 

In fact, in an interview with NPR, our founder and president, Shai Reshef, said that a quarter of University of the People’s US-based students are undocumented immigrants.

 

Anyone, regardless of your status in the country, can get a degree online from our accredited American, tuition-free university. You only pay processing fees, which, for an entire 4 year undergraduate degree, are only $4,060.

 

If you can’t afford it, check out the scholarships we offer. If you’re a refugee, you can find refugee-specific scholarships here.

 

How to Attend a University in the US if You Can’t Produce Original Diplomas or School Transcripts

 

If you’re undocumented in the US because you’re a refugee or an asylum seeker, it’s possible you don’t have access to your school transcripts or diplomas. But here, at University of the People, we believe that shouldn’t stop you from gaining an education. For information on how to apply to University of the People with a high-school equivalency test, please click here.

 

Don’t Give Up on Your Dream to Get Higher Education

 

Remember that, no matter where you were born, education is your birthright.

 

If you have any questions after reading this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us by clicking here. We’re here to remind you that you have options, and to cheer you on as you take the next steps to turn your dreams into reality.