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An undocumented student living in the USA may have to overcome lots of obstacles to get a college education. Each state has its own policy on whether or not it offers in-state tuition rates to undocumented students or state financial aid. With around 408,000 undocumented students enrolled in postsecondary education, let’s discover where they can find affordable access to higher education.

The Changing Landscape

The path to higher education for undocumented students has seen its share of changes. In 2019, 427,000 undocumented students were pursuing their academic dreams. By 2021, this number had decreased by 4.2%, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing legal challenges concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Believe it or not, there are still many people who missed out on applying for DACA when it was first launched, and now are prevented from applying because of these legal challenges. This can make life difficult for them even though they grew up in the United States from a young age but they can’t afford to pay for a college education.

In-State Tuition: A Path to Opportunity

Across the United States, 24 states offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, making college more financially accessible. This means the undocumented student would pay the same rate for tuition that a US citizen or green card student would pay in that state. Notably, 18 of these states also allow undocumented students to apply for state financial aid—a crucial advantage given the unavailability of federal financial aid for this group.

States Offering In-State Tuition, but Not State Aid:

  • Florida: Undocumented students can get in-state tuition but must apply for an out-of-state fee waiver. This involves meeting specific requirements, such as attending a secondary school in Florida for three consecutive years before graduation and enrolling in a public state higher education institution within 24 months of graduating.
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma

States Providing In-State Tuition and State Financial Aid:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Which states provide in-state tuition, but are still working on aid?

  • Arizona: While Arizona currently offers in-state tuition to undocumented students, they are still working on providing state financial aid.

The United States offers a diverse range of educational opportunities, and for undocumented students, their state of residence can significantly impact their educational journey. These policies are making higher education dreams a reality for countless aspiring students. As we move forward, we hope to see more states join those providing both in-state tuition and state financial aid, ensuring that education remains an inclusive and accessible path for all. Stay tuned for future developments on this inspiring journey toward educational equity!


NewsNation – Which states give undocumented students in-state tuition? Aug 18, 2023
Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.