Today, undocumented students who attend and graduate from East Boston High School and high schools across the state must pay out-of-state tuition to attend our public colleges and universities. Rep. Adrian Madaro is of the opinion that these are our students, Massachusetts is their home, and it’s past time to give them access to in-state tuition. “This session, I filed a bill (H1352: An Act to Ensure Tuition Equity for Massachusetts Residents) to make in-state tuition available to undocumented students with State Representative Michael Moran,” said Madaro.
“Not only would this bill remove a barrier to higher education for undocumented students, but it makes economic and fiscal sense.” Madaro recently provided testimony to the Joint Committee on Higher Education in support of this bill. “I filed this legislation with Leader Michael Moran to ensure that every Massachusetts resident has the opportunity to pursue higher education at in-state tuition rates regardless of their immigration status,” said Madaro. “This legislation would allow all students, except nonimmigrant individuals, to qualify for in-state tuition rates at our state public colleges and universities if they have attended a Massachusetts high school for at least three years and graduated or if they have obtained the equivalent through an adult basic education program.”
The bill does not make state financial aid available to undocumented students, and undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid. However, at a time when college enrollment is drastically down in the Commonwealth, Madaro argues this legislation would bring in additional revenue for the public higher education system through new student enrollment at virtually no cost. “This legislation would also increase the number of educated residents in the Commonwealth and affirm our commitment towards the inclusivity of our immigrant neighbors, many of whom grew up in Massachusetts and do not have recollection of any other place to call home,” said Madaro.
“Further, at a time when the public health emergency has highlighted the myriad ways in which socioeconomic inequities exacerbate illness among marginalized populations, it is incumbent upon us to increase access to higher education for immigrant communities that have been disproportionately burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.” Madaro said his legislation would create economic, fiscal and social benefits for the Commonwealth. “This proposal would bolster revenue for our public higher education system with nearly no new investment by increasing student enrollment,” said Madaro. “Currently, highly-motivated and brilliant undocumented students who are already studying in our Massachusetts K-12 education system rarely, if ever, matriculate in our public colleges and universities due to the prohibitive cost of out-of-state tuition, which is significantly higher than in-state tuition. As such, decreasing the cost of tuition for undocumented students in Massachusetts would result in new enrollments.”
Madaro then pointed to a 2011 report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that 315 to 365 undocumented immigrants would enroll in public colleges and universities in the first year if Massachusetts were to adopt in-state tuition rates for graduating high school students. The report also concluded that the number of new students could easily be absorbed by the state’s public higher education system. “In Texas, where undocumented students have had access to in-state tuition rates since 2001, a majority of undocumented students have enrolled in community colleges,” he said. “Assuming this trend would hold in Massachusetts, increasing access to higher education for undocumented students through in-state tuition rates would help stabilize and augment enrollment at community colleges and other public higher education programs. This rise in enrollment would enrich the student body of our public colleges at virtually no additional cost to the Commonwealth and is needed now more than ever. No private scholarship is ever enough to cover the full cost of attending our colleges and universities. Yet they are eager to learn and dream of a better future for themselves, their families, our neighborhoods, and our Commonwealth. I believe it is time for Massachusetts to join the seventeen other states across the country offering in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.”