Massachusetts to Grant In-State Tuition to Immigrant Students

Nov 19, 2012

The Governor of Massachusetts has submitted a request to the state’s Commissioner of Higher Education that  formerly undocumented students living in the Commonwealth receive in-state college tuition at public universities and community colleges. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Last June, President Obama declared that he would not deport foreign nationals that came to the country illegally as children that meet certain educational standards. An executive order signed by the president that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would protect  illegals who came to the United States as children under the age of 16 from being  deported for at least two years, and that they could be eligible for a work permit application. According to the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Education, Paul Reville a work permit would allow an immigrant student to qualify for in-state tuition.

Secretary Reville said that the Governor is sending a letter the state Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland that immigrant students in the Commonwealth that have been granted deferred status by the federal government be granted the reduced in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. Reville says Commissioner Freeland will then inform the state’s public schools, the policy will be “effective immediately.”

Shannon Erwin, legislative director for the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says that the federal “deferred action” program and the new clarification of state policies sent by Gov. Patrick is an important step for a formerly undocumented student living in the Commonwealth.

Renato Teodoro, of the Student Immigrant Movement, and an undocumented student herself who came to the United States as a child from Brazil, said that because undocumented students are unable to qualify for federal student assistance, finding a way to pay for college is a great challenge.

Teodoro said she hopes the Governor’s clarification will inspire more immigrant students to apply for college to educate themselves.

In August of this year, Hampshire College, a private institution in Massachusetts, announced that through an endowment they would begin granting financial aid to undocumented students.