Wednesday, October 6, 2010

California Supreme Court Reported Skeptical of Challenge to In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

A 2001 California law allows students who graduate from a high school within the state to attend any public higher education institution at in-state (resident) rates. Thus, a foreign-born student who was brought to the U.S. illegally and attended a California high school is treated the same for tuition purposes as any other state resident. (Such students are ineligible for various federal assistance programs, however.) A challenge to the law was brought recently and heard by the state Supreme Court. Excerpt from a report on the L.A. Now blog of the LA Times:

October 5, 2010 - The California Supreme Court appeared skeptical Tuesday of a lawsuit that would end in-state tuition for an estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants who attend the state's public universities and colleges.

The court is reviewing an appeals court ruling that said the state is barred by federal immigration law from giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition, which can be as much as $19,000 a year cheaper than fees charged to out-of-state students...

A lawsuit before the court contends that the state requirement is preempted by a federal law that prohibits states from using residency requirements to give educational benefits to illegal immigrants when the benefit is not also offered to citizens.

During a special session in Fresno, some of the justices noted that the state law provided benefits to citizens as well as illegal immigrants. Out-of-state citizens who attend high school in California also are eligible for the lower in-state college tuition under the law...

A ruling is expected within 90 days. If the court upholds the state law, the case is expected to be appealed to the more conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Full report at

Note that this issue came up in the Brown-Whitman Univision/Spanish language debate when an undocumented student posed a question. See the earlier post for that excerpt.

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