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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 20, 2018 12:44 PM
From: Representative Kevin J. Boyle
To: All House members
Subject: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Individuals

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that is commonly referred to as the DREAM Act. This bill will amend the Public School Code to allow undocumented individuals to pay in-State tuition at public institutions of higher education if they meet certain requirements. In November 2012, Maryland became the first state in the nation to approve in-state tuition rates for undocumented students by popular vote. Currently, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed some version of this legislation. These states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. In addition, four states – Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and Rhode Island – have established policies through higher education boards in their state university systems to allow in-state tuition rates for such students.

Undocumented students who have lived in this country for most of their lives and have contributed to their communities are, nevertheless, at a significant disadvantage in terms of college affordability. Like most young people, many of these so-called “dreamers” have hopes and dreams of pursuing careers and making even greater contributions to society. However, such dreamers are limited when considering college as an option to better their futures. For example, students attending any of the fourteen institutions that comprise the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and are not United States citizens are presumed not to be domiciled in Pennsylvania, but may rebut this presumption by “clear and convincing evidence.” These instances are decided on a case-by-case basis, which may discourage countless numbers of students from attempting to be considered a resident for tuition purposes. Considering the significant cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, as well as the fact that undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid, college is often too expensive and not realistic for many of these students.

Most undocumented students had no choice in entering the United States without documentation and have lived in this country without incident for most of their lives. Under my legislation, an undocumented individual would be eligible to pay Pennsylvania resident tuition rates at any PASSHE institution, community college, or state-related university, provided they meet a number of requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to, graduation from a public or nonpublic secondary school in this state, documentation submitted to the public institution of higher education of payment of state income taxes by the student or the student’s parent for at least three years prior to enrollment in college, and providing an affidavit to the college or university that the student will file an application to become a permanent resident.