Rethinking Tuition for Undocumented Students Through Interstate Tuition Agreements (ITAs): A Way Forward?
Substantial hurdles remain for undocumented students to access and graduate from higher education institutions. These hurdles include being barred from enrolling in public institutions in three states (Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina) and facing restrictions on accessing in-state tuition in five more states (Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). As a result, it is important to identify additional pathways for undocumented students to access higher education opportunities.
One route could be through inter-state tuition agreements (ITAs), which offer students, who would otherwise be charged out-of-state tuition, access to an in-state tuition rate or a discounted tuition rate in a participating state. In-state tuition rates have been shown to increase enrollment of undocumented students, though do not address all the challenges facing undocumented students in higher education.
The report seeks to answer two key questions: 1) To which ITAs do the eight restrictive or prohibitive enrollment states belong? 2) Are undocumented students eligible to participate?
Through a review of online tuition policy documents and follow-up phone conversations with state boards of higher education, the report found that undocumented students’ eligibility for ITAs likely varies by region, state, and institution. When eligible, their participation in the ITA is generally approved on a case-by-case basis.
State higher education boards and regional organizations have an opportunity to begin or continue advocacy for undocumented students and their eligibility to participate in ITAs. Publicly available information about undocumented students’ eligibility should also be made clear and more consistent.