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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 five states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, that have passed legislation allowing refugee students to access in-state tuition in all of the state’s public colleges and universities. 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
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
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

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