A re-run of my blog from September 2011.
Want to pay in-state tuition at the University of Texas? Move to Texas, pay taxes and graduate in the top 10% of your high school class.
Governor Rick Perry has been criticized for signing the 2001 Texas law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Texas state universities. Mitt Romney expressed outrage that undocumented students receive in-state tuition when U.S. citizens from other states do not -- a benefit he claims is worth nearly $100,000 in 4 years at the University of Texas.
Mitt, there is a simple solution for U.S. citizens who want to attend the University of Texas and pay in-state tuition. They can move to Texas, graduate in the top 10% of their high school class and pay taxes here like the undocumented Texas high school graduates you want to deprive of an education.
What does the Texas DREAM Act do?
Undocumented immigrants with a Texas high school diploma or GED who have lived in Texas for at least 3 years may qualify for in-state tuition if they sign an affidavit saying they intend to apply for permanent residence as soon as they can.
From 2002 to 2010, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 35,200 students used the affidavit method to attend Texas colleges or universities at in-state tuition rates. The annual number of beneficiaries rose from 733 in 2002 to 16,476 in 2010. "Affidavit" students pay far less than what they would pay as non-residents. On average in 2011, a non-resident, full-time student would be expected to pay an estimated $17,000 in tuition and fees while a Texas resident would pay $7,200.
Non-residents can qualify for in-state tuition by establishing and maintaining a domicile in Texas for 1 year.
Requiring undocumented students to pay non-resident tuition would cost Texas universities money.
A law was proposed in the 2011 legislative session that would have required undocumented students to pay non-resident tuition. The Higher Education Coordinating Board estimated that almost 20,000 students would be affected by the change, and calculated that the state's institutions of higher learning would suffer a net loss of almost $92 million in tuition in fiscal year 2016 alone.
Undocumented students and their families pay Texas taxes
Unlike U.S. citizens who reside in other states, undocumented students and their families pay taxes in Texas. The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimates that Texas households headed by an undocumented immigrant paid over $1.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.
Denying undocumented students in-state tuition rates won't save taxpayer money because they contribute to the tax base and to the economy. Better educated immigrants can contribute more to the economy and the tax base in Texas.
Undocumented students were brought to Texas as children and excelled in education in Texas. Allowing them to attend Texas universities as the residents they are is an excellent investment. It benefits the state, the universities and the students.