Unauthorized Alien Students, Higher Education, and In-State Tuition Rates: A Legal Analysis
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Currently, federal law prohibits states from granting unauthorized aliens certain postsecondary educational benefits on the basis of state residence, unless equal benefits are made available to all U.S. citizens. This prohibition is commonly understood to apply to the granting of “in-state” residency status for tuition purposes. Legislation to amend this federal law has routinely been introduced in previous Congresses, and several similar bills have been introduced in the 111th Congress, including H.R. 1751, S. 729, and H.R. 4321. Meanwhile, some states have passed laws aimed at making unauthorized state residents eligible for in-state tuition without violating this provision. This report provides a legal overview of cases involving immigrant access to higher education, as well as an analysis of the legality of state laws that make in-state tuition rates available to illegal aliens.