Immigrant Higher Education Bill Pushed

Tim Goral's picture

More students could attend college if a plan allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges is approved, a Minnesota lawmaker argues.

“We want to eliminate the achievement gap so that students who have not traditionally been going to college are going to college,” said Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul. “We need them in our future workforce.”

Students who went to high school in Minnesota for at least three years and graduated would be able to pay in-state tuition at state schools, such as the University of Minnesota and those in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, under Pappas’ plan. Those students also would be able to apply for some state financial aid.

Pappas said many of the students who would be affected by the change are from low-income families.

“It will be difficult for these students to go to college even with in-state tuition,” Pappas said, but the lower cost will help.

At the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, for example, Minnesota residents pay roughly $6,000 per semester, about $2,600 less than nonresident students.

The students must have applied to legalize their U.S. immigration status or do so as soon as possible to be eligible for the lower tuition.

“We are really encouraging students to move toward legality as soon as it’s available,” Pappas said Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing.

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