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Regents to allow in-state tuition for DACA students

The Arizona Board of Regents reversed a decision that will allow DREAMers to pay in-state tuition.

DACA Walk 1
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students walk through the Tempe campus on April 7, 2015. The walk encouraged other students to demonstrate their support.

The Arizona Board of Regents said in a statement they will allow undocumented students pay in-state tuition for all Arizona public universities after a Maricopa County court ruling Tuesday.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who present an employment authorization document and meet Arizona law residency requirements are eligible for in-state tuition, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy started in 2012 and gives lawful presence to those who have lived in the U.S. since 2007, came to the U.S. before age 16 and have a GED or high school diploma.

Administrators at Maricopa Community Colleges were already allowing DACA recipients pay in-state tuition because a federal work document can be used to establish lawful presence in Arizona, MCC Spokesman Tom Gariepy said in an interview with the State Press.  

In June 2013, a lawsuit was filed by Attorney General Tom Horne against MCC because the policy violated Proposition 300, a law that banned providing public benefits to undocumented immigrants.

But on Tuesday, Maricopa County judge Arthur Anderson ruled that this law doesn’t bar benefits to immigrants under federal law, making DACA students lawfully present.

A proposal to lower the tuition rate to 150 percent  of resident tuition was already being discussed by regents before the ruling.  At the time Dulce Matuz, founder of Arizona Dream Act Coalition, said in an interview with the State Press that it should be 100 percent.

“It’s not fair for them to be treated differently,” she said. “They work here and pay taxes here."

Now, DREAMers attending ASU who pay more than $24,000 in out-of-state tuition will be saving thousands of dollars with this ruling by qualifying for resident tuition, which is $10,157.

German Cadenas, president of external affairs for Graduate and Professional Student Association, said he appreciates the courage of ABOR in taking this step. 

"This was a long time coming," he said. "We've been waiting many years to make DREAMers equal."

Cadenas, a DREAMer himself, said he is happy thousands of other DREAMers wont have to go through what he went through. 

Although this a big step in the right direction, Cadenas said the obstacles are not yet over. 

"I am waiting to see how universities will interpret this ruling in terms of financial aid," he said. 

Reach the news editor at or follow her on Twitter @kelciegrega.

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