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Immigrants and in-state tuition

In June, a Georgia judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by students who are in the country illegally that had asked for them to be granted in-state college tuition rates. While the students argued that the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows them access to the same rates as other in-state students, the judge ruled against them on the basis of sovereign immunity.

An attorney for the students filed an appeal of that decision on June 27 arguing that under Georgia law, any student associated with the DACA program meets Georgia requirements for getting in-state rates because they are legally present in the United States, which is what Georgia law requires. However, an attorney for the state says that this law does not affect Georgia state tuition policies, and schools can only take part in the program if they enroll all of their academically eligible students.

Many schools in the state such as Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State have not met that requirement. According to the National Immigration Law Center, which is a group that advocates for immigrant rights, 20 states allow students to qualify for in-state rates as long as they meet certain criteria, and students can qualify regardless of whether they are in the country legally or not.

The ability of students who are not in the country legally to get the same tuition rates as students who are in the country legally depends on several factors. While the federal government may grant an illegal immigrant the right to stay in the country, that person may not be granted the same services or access to education that those who are in the country legally may receive. Anyone who has questions or concerns about how their legal status may affect themselves or their children may wish to speak to an immigration attorney.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Appeal filed in tuition case for immigrants without legal status", Janel Davis, July 01, 2014

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