Undocumented Immigrants Banned from N.C. Community Colleges

By Mary Ann Zehr — May 19, 2008 1 min read
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North Carolina’s system of community colleges is the first statewide system to announce it won’t admit undocumented immigrants, even if the students can come up with the money for tuition, according to a May 15 article in the Charlotte Observer, which I found over at

It’s been my experience in talking with school people that undocumented students tend to choose community colleges over other kinds of colleges and universities because they are affordable—and many undocumented students come from low-income families. So it seems North Carolina education officials are closing off one of the most viable options for postsecondary education for students who live illegally in the country.

Proponents of the new policy say it makes sense because college graduates who are undocumented can’t be legally employed anyway.

I keep thinking of that line, though, from the United Negro College Fund: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” And I wonder, what’s going to happen to the good minds of undocumented students in North Carolina.

The article says that at least 10 states permit undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities.

Update on May 21: Read my colleague Scott Cech’s article in Education Week about this topic, here.

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