The Cost of Educating Undocumented Students

By Mary Ann Zehr — December 19, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About 2 million of the nation’s 53.3 million school-age children, or 4 percent, are living in the country illegally, says a report released by the Congressional Budget Office this month. And an additional 3 million school-age children are U.S. citizens born to parents who are undocumented. Those figures were first reported by the Urban Institute.

The congressional report, “The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments,” is the first national report I’ve seen in several years released by the U.S. government that gives some clues about how much it costs state and local governments to educate undocumented children. (The Government Accounting Office released “Illegal Alien Schoolchildren: Issues in Estimating State-by-State Costs” in 2004.)

But the report doesn’t give an overall, national number—it merely cites figures for how much local and state governments in Minnesota (between $79 million and $118 million) and New Mexico (about $67 million) estimated it costs them to provide schooling for such children.

For estimates from other states, see my earlier posts, “Best Guess on the Cost of Educating the Undocumented in Texas,” “Arkansas Lawmakers Want to Know Cost of Educating Undocumented Children,” and “Utah Asks Feds to Pay for Educating Undocumented Children.”

For further analysis, see the Director’s Blog over at the Congressional Budget Office. The director notes that the tax revenue collected from undocumented immigrants doesn’t offset the costs involved in providing services to them, although the costs make up a small share of overall spending by local and state governments.

For further blogging or reporting on the congressional report, see ImmigrationProf Blog, March on Politics , the Phoenix Business-Journal, and The Washington Times.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.