Oct 11, 2023 - News

Undocumented students can now get in-state tuition in Massachusetts

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 11,000 undocumented students now qualify for in-state tuition and state financial aid at Massachusetts colleges as schools start to implement the new policy.

Why it matters: The law that passed this summer makes higher education more accessible to undocumented people who have grown up in Massachusetts.

  • Business leaders and advocates also hope the new benefits help foster more skilled workers for emerging industries in the state.

What's happening: Colleges can start processing requests from undocumented students seeking in-state tuition, according to newly-released state guidance.

  • The state has not yet detailed the financial aid expansion but expects to do so this fall.

What they're saying: "It's no great secret that Massachusetts is losing people. We are propped up by immigration," Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College, tells Axios.

  • The northeastern Massachusetts college's student population this year is 46% Latino, with many from the Dominican Republic.

By the numbers: More than 11,000 undocumented students attend Massachusetts colleges, and approximately 1,000 undocumented high schoolers graduate in the state each year, according to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal.

Zoom in: Northern Essex already started notifying students of the change on social media, as well as informing high schools, social service agencies and nonprofits who can spread the word to local immigrants, Glenn tells Axios.

How it works: Bay State students must fill out an eligibility form and submit forms documenting high school attendance, a transcript and diploma, according to the state guidance.

  • They must also submit an affidavit promising to apply to become lawful permanent residents or citizens within 120 days of becoming eligible.

The big picture: Massachusetts is the 24th state to extend in-state tuition to undocumented students and the 18th state to extend state financial aid, according to the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

Yes, but: Some officials in red states with tuition equity laws, like Texas and Florida, have proposed rolling them back in recent years.

  • "Why would we subsidize non-U.S. citizens when we want to make sure we want to keep it affordable for our own people?" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this year after proposing to repeal the state's tuition law.

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