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Undocumented Students and Access to Inter-State Tuition Agreements (ITAs): Fact Sheet

The United States is home to more than 427,000 undocumented students, including 181,000 DACA-eligible students, enrolled in higher education. Each U.S. state implements its own policies in terms of whether to provide access to in-state tuition and state financial aid to the state’s undocumented students. This results in a patchwork of different policies in different states. Thirty-four states and D.C. provide at least limited access to in-state tuition to the state’s undocumented students and/or DACA recipients.  Sixteen states and Puerto Rico have either no policies, restrictive policies (policies that actively bar access to in-state tuition or state financial aid) or prohibitive policies (policies that actively bar enrollment in at least some public institutions) for the state’s resident undocumented students. Some of those states may still allow DACA recipients to enroll and access in-state tuition. As a result of this national patchwork of policies, it is important to identify additional pathways that may provide undocumented students with access to higher education opportunities. 

A potential avenue to expand undocumented students access to higher education are 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. Policies that provide tuition equity generally expand access to higher education and help fuel the state’s economy. Research shows positive effects of offering in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented students, as it increases college enrollment and improves outcomes such as academic achievement, credits attempted, and first-semester retention. ITAs could be part of the solution to expanding access to higher education and reducing the growing labor shortage in certain industries.

This fact sheet answers the following key questions related to undocumented students and ITAs.

  1. What is an inter-state tuition agreement (ITA)?
  2. Are undocumented students eligible for inter-state tuition (ITA) agreements?
  3. What are some examples of inter-state tuition agreements (ITAs) that currently exist?
  4. Which inter-state tuition agreements (ITAs) extend eligibility to undocumented students?
  5. Are inter-state tuition agreement (ITA) programs available at both public and private educational institutions?
  6. What positive educational outcomes arise from inter-state tuition agreements (ITAs)?
  7. How many states currently have state policies that allow undocumented students to access in-state tuition and state financial aid? How many states bar undocumented students? 
  8. How can financial aid officers, admissions counselors, and college counselors support undocumented students’ eligibility for inter-state tuition agreements (ITAs)?

Published: July 27, 2022.

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