Bill could extend resident tuition to immigrant students

Indiana legislators could be on track to doing something important: changing the law to let noncitizen students pay resident tuition at Indiana colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 138, being considered by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, would extend in-state tuition to students who complete four years of high school in Indiana and earn a diploma or a high school equivalence certificate. Currently, noncitizens have to pay out-of-state tuition.

Indiana Statehouse dome

Committee testimony on this bill last Thursday was powerful. Young immigrants told of studying diligently in school and working for a better future, only to learn they couldn’t receive federal or state student aid and would have to pay pricey nonresident tuition to attend college in Indiana.

“We won’t stop here. We will continue to advocate and raise our voices,” said Wendy Catalan Ruano, an Indianapolis resident and an advocate with the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance.

Supporters said the bipartisan bill is timely as Indiana businesses struggle to find qualified workers and college-educated Hoosiers often take their skills and credentials to other states.

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Repeal ban on in-state tuition for undocumented students

So much bad stuff happened in the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly that it was hard to keep up. Truly egregious legislation was passed and signed into law without much attention.

Case in point: House Enrolled Act 1402, a simple law with only the following language: “An individual who is not lawfully present in the United States is not eligible to pay the resident tuition rate that is determined by the state educational institution.”

A companion measure, Senate Enrolled Act 590, included a ban on local or state government making “a postsecondary education award, including a scholarship, a grant, or financial aid,” to undocumented students.

The laws are still on the books. It’s way past time to repeal them.

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