Maryland’s Concession To Undocumented Students The Latest In A Trend
On Election Day, Maryland voters passed a referendum that will allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at community colleges. As Campus Progress reports, Maryland now joins the ranks of 13 other states that allow undocumented college students to pay in-state rates at their schools.
The difference between tuition rates for state and non-state residents can be crucial. The University of Maryland, for example, charges Maryland residents just under $9,000 for annual tuition, while non-residents must pay a whopping $27,288.
The state's voter-supported referendum will also make school more affordable for those who are barred from receiving federal financial aid due to the citizenship/residency requirement. The move is one of several pieces of state legislation intended to increase undocumented immigrants’ access to affordable education.
In September, the state governments in New Jersey and Florida put an end to discriminatory policies that prevented children of undocumented immigrants from receiving state financial aid and college tuition breaks available to other state residents. And last week, Florida’s Board of Education voted unanimously to uphold the policy ban in their state.
Though the federal DREAM Act has yet to pass, undocumented students have made gains at the federal level as well.
In June, President Obama issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum, which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 years of age to apply for protection from deportation and work authorization for a renewable period of two years, provided they meet certain requirements.
Like the deferred action program, the newly-adopted Maryland measure is not without restrictions. In order to pay in-state tuition, students must have attended a Maryland high school for three consecutive years.
Though there is still a long way to go on immigration reform, these policies signify a larger trend favoring equal rights for this historically subjugated group.
As the most recent of several state policies aimed at facilitating undocumented students’ access to affordable education, the Maryland referendum demonstrates that the provision of equal opportunities for undocumented immigrants is taking hold across the country, and that the passage of the DREAM Act may be closer than ever.
Amanda Fox-Rouch is a reporter for Campus Progress.
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