Equity & Diversity


December 05, 2001 2 min read

Immigrants and Tuition

Texas and California lawmakers recently decided to allow undocumented immigrants to pay lower, in-state tuition for college. But New York City has moved in the opposite direction.

City University of New York officials say they will raise tuition for such students in order to comply with a federal immigration law that they contend doesn’t allow undocumented immigrants to be given preferential treatment over out-of-state students.

The 198,000-student university system announced the decision Nov. 2 in a memorandum sent to trustees, campus presidents, and other administrators after the system’s general counsel conducted a policy review sparked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

CUNY now charges undocumented immigrants at the lower, in-state tuition rate if they have lived in New York state for at least 12 months or have attended high school in the state for at least two semesters. Next semester, which begins in late January, those students will be required to pay the higher, out-of-state tuition.

State residents pay $1,250 per semester at CUNY’s two-year community colleges and $1,600 per semester at its four-year colleges. Out-of-state students pay $1,538 at the community colleges and $3,400 at the four-year colleges.

“Our general counsel is of the opinion that the law is clear,” said Michael Arena, CUNY’s director of media relations.

But Michael A. Olivas, a University of Houston law professor and the director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance, said CUNY has made a significant mistake.

“They simply got it wrong,” he argued. “There is no way that statute says what they say it does. CUNY for a long time stood for a particular ethos, and this is an abandonment of that ethos,” he said, referring to the system’s traditional role in serving students who might otherwise be denied a college education.

California Gov. Gray Davis signed a law Oct. 11 that allows undocumented immigrants who graduate from California high schools to pay in-state college tuition. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill in June that made Texas the first state to offer undocumented immigrants in-state tuition. (“Undocumented Grads to Get Tuition Breaks From Calif. Institutions,” Oct. 31, 2001.)

Several members of Congress have introduced legislation that would grant new legal status to undocumented immigrants as long as they are in school or pursuing a postsecondary education.

—John Gehring jgehring@epe.org

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2001 edition of Education Week


School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Building Equitable Systems: Moving Math From Gatekeeper to Opportunity Gateway
The importance of disrupting traditional American math practices and adopting high-quality math curriculum continues to be essential for changing the trajectory of historically under-resourced schools. Building systems around high-quality math curriculum also is necessary to
Content provided by Partnership for L.A. Schools
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Strategies for Supporting LGBTQ Students
Three educators share ways to help LGBTQ students.
10 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Equity & Diversity Opinion Trans Youth Are Under Attack. Educators Must Step Up
What can schools do in the face of the extreme hostility trans and gender-nonconforming young people now face across the country?
Harper B. Keenan & Z Nicolazzo
4 min read
A butterfly lands on balanced stones in front of tranquil waters and a sunset
Pict Rider/iStock/Getty images<br/>
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Does Educational Equity Become Educationally Unethical?
Equity stumbles into a truly gruesome place when educators are directed to shortchange students based on how they look or where they live.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion Why More Teachers Need to See the Beauty and Brilliance in Black Girls
Black girls are often accused of being loud or having an attitude. We need teachers to change that harmful perspective, because it matters.
Bola Delano-Oriaran
5 min read
Black Girls Misunderstood