Rhode Island Poised to Extend In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants

At a public meeting on September 26, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education will vote on whether to extend in-state college tuition benefits to illegal immigrants.

Under the proposed policy, illegal immigrants will be eligible for in-state tuition if they attended high school in Rhode Island for at least three years. After being accepted by a college and deciding to enroll, they must file an affidavit confirming they are taking or have taken action to gain legal resident status.

Public comment will be allowed at the board meeting, which in anticipation of a large crowd has been moved to the field house of the Community College of Rhode Island’s Warwick campus.

The state’s Hispanic college student enrollment grew from 5,045 students in 2007 to 5,589 students in 2010, according to the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee issued a statement in support of the proposal, saying, “I have long been a supporter of efforts to encourage college attendance among students who, through no fault of their own, do not have full residency status.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry shares Chafee’s view on this issue, and the Lone Star State has already passed a law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Perry, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has drawn criticism for his immigration policies at recent debates.