Undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition at UTPA
Posted: 08/09/2001
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A new law recently approved by the 77th Texas Legislature allows certain undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at The University of Texas-Pan American and other Texas higher education institutions.

Effective this fall, undocumented graduates from Texas public or private high schools who are entering freshman, have lived in the state for at least three years and can provide an affidavit stating they will seek residency may qualify for in-state tuition.

David Zuniga

"This will be beneficial to those students who have gone through the public school system and are ready to continue their studies in higher education, but could not afford it," said David Zuniga, director of the UTPA Office of Admissions and Records. "Now, tuition will be more affordable to them under this new law."

In the past, only U.S. citizens or permanent residents qualified for in-state tuition, and while state law provides undocumented students with free public K-12 education, they were forced to pay nonresident tuition while attending institutions of higher education.

Another recent change allows current college students who have started the residency process with Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS) the opportunity to qualify for in-state tuition, once proper documentation is provided.

In the past, students had to wait for residency approval from INS to qualify for in-state tuition.

"There are two issues we are dealing with," Zuniga said. "One addresses those undocumented aliens who will be entering freshmen starting this fall, and the other addresses perspective current college students who have started the immigration process. This means that undocumented students and those who have started the process will now have the opportunity to pay in-state tuition."

According to Michelle Alvarado, UTPA Student Financial Services director, these students may also qualify for state financial-aid, which includes the TEXAS grant, scholarships, waivers and other state grants.

Under the new law, there are currently 124 potential applicants who qualify for in-state tuition, Zuniga said. UTPA is making all efforts to inform the public of the changes.

For more information, contact the UTPA Office of Admissions and Records at 956/381-2201, 956/381-2206 or visit the office in the Student Services Building, Room 108. Students interested in receiving state financial aid can contact the Student Financial Services Office at 381-2501 for an appointment with an advisor.