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Expanding Refugee Access to In-State Tuition

Refugees, asylees, and/or other individuals with humanitarian visas, including Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), face unique challenges in navigating the college application and admissions process. One significant challenge is limited access to in-state tuition and state financial aid at all of their state’s public colleges and universities, particularly in the time before refugees and other individuals qualify for and obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. A growing number of states have implemented statewide policies expanding access to in-state tuition and state financial to individuals with refugee and other humanitarian statuses.

We have identified states, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin that have passed legislation allowing refugee students to access in-state tuition in all of the state’s public colleges and universities. In Ohio and Nevada, the state systems have policies that allow for refugees to access in-state tuition. For an overview of questions and guidance for refugees applying to higher education, please review the NASFAA tip sheet on refugee and asylee students.

See the table below for details on each states’ policy.

StatePolicy Date Passed
 CaliforniaCalifornia Assembly Bill (A.B. 343) provides certain individuals admitted to the United States as refugees or who have a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) with access to in-state tuition.October 5, 2017
 ColoradoColorado Senate Bill 18-087 provides individuals admitted to the United States as refugees or who have a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) and have settled in Colorado with access to in-state tuition. The bill defines “settle” as having made their home in Colorado and presently intend to reside permanently in the state.April 12, 2018
MinnesotaSF 1236 establishes criteria by which students defined as a refugee, who, upon arrival in the United States, moved to Minnesota and has continued to reside in Minnesota may qualify for the resident tuition rate in state universities and colleges.July 1, 2013
NevadaNevada System of Higher Ed  Board of Regents Handbook, Title 4, Chapter 15, Section 4.9 grants in-state tuition to “An alien who has become a Nevada resident by establishing bona fide residence in Nevada and who holds a permanent immigrant visa, has been granted official asylum or refugee status.”June 2021
OhioThe Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) in the  Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3333-1-10 and Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3333.31 indicates that political refugees are eligible for review or consideration by the Chancellor for in-state tuition. September 30, 2021
OregonOregon Senate Bill (S.B.) 553 provides certain individuals admitted to the United States as refugees or who have a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) with access to in-state tuition at any of the state’s undergraduate or graduate degree programs.July 27, 2021
UtahUtah HB0144 modifies the State System of Higher Education Code and allows a student who meets certain requirements to be exempt from paying nonresident tuition, including R512-4.4.3 for a student who has obtained asylum or refugee status to be classified for purposes of resident status according to the same criteria applicable to citizens.July 1, 2002
VirginiaVirginia H.B. 1179 provides certain individuals admitted to the United States as refugees or who have a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) with access to in-state tuition.April 6, 2020,
WashingtonWashington House Bill (H.B.) 1488 provides certain individuals admitted to the United States as refugees with access to in-state tuition.March 22, 2018
WisconsinWisconsin Senate Bill 360 states that persons defined as refugees by federal law are to be considered residents and eligible for in-state tuition. April 14, 1992

If we are missing a state or educational system/institution, please notify Laura Wagner at laura@presidentsalliance.org.

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