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, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin that have passed legislation allowing refugee students to access in-state tuition in all of the state’s public colleges and universities upon arrival, without having to meet a residency requirement. In Iowa, Maine, and Ohio the state systems have policies that allow for refugees to access in-state tuition. California and Vermont have legislation specifically granting in-state tuition access for refugees to community colleges. The majority of states, refugees are eligible for in-state tuition once the student meets residency requirements. The remaining states have no clear policy or require legal permanent residency in order for refugee students to access in-state tuition.
The Refugee Advocacy Lab tracks in-state tuition for forcibly displaced students state-by-state here. For an overview of questions and guidance for refugees applying to federal student aid, please review the NASFAA tip sheet on refugee and asylee students.
See the table below for details on each states’ policy.
|California||California 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 to California Community Colleges.||October 5, 2017|
|Colorado||Colorado 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|
|Iowa||The Iowa State Administrative Rules section ARC 2021C provides “A person who has been certified as a refugee or granted asylum by the appropriate agency of the United States who enrolls as a student at a university governed by the Iowa state board of regents may be accorded immediate resident status for admission, tuition, and fee purposes when the person:(1) Comes directly to the state of Iowa from a refugee facility or port of debarkation, or (2) Comes to the state of Iowa within a reasonable time and has not established domicile in another state.”||July 15, 2015|
|Maine||Administrative Practice Letter IV-G states a non-U.S. citizen who has refugee status, and was resettled in Maine after arriving in the United States, is considered a Maine resident for tuition purposes||January 1, 2020|
|Minnesota||SF 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|
|Ohio||The 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|
|Oregon||Oregon 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|
|Utah||Utah H.B. 102 allows refugees, SIVs, asylees, asylum seekers, and TPS holders to access in-state tuition rates at Utah colleges and universities.||March 15, 2023|
|Virginia||Virginia 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,|
|Vermont||Vermont S.283 (Act 166) an individual who qualifies as a refugee, is granted parole to enter the United States, or is issued a special immigrant visa pursuant to the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to be considered a resident for instate tuition purposes for the Community College of Vermont.||June 1, 2022|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.