Children of Undocumented Parents Charged Punitive Tuition

One institution of higher education that charges tuition based on parents' immigration/citizenship status

One institution of higher education that charges tuition based on parents’ immigration/citizenship status

U.S. citizens who are dependent  children of illegal immigrants are suing school officials in South Carolina (SC) for denying them in-state tuition.

South Carolina students are required to pay tuition based on their parents’ immigration status. Dependent children who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are undocumented are not prevented by state law from receiving in-state tuition or state-administered scholarships; however, dependent children are classified based on their parents’ residency. Consequently, such students are defined as “non-residents” by public colleges and the Commission on Higher Education, which establishes rules of eligibility for in-state tuition and state-administered scholarships.

Tuition rates for non-residents can be triple the cost of in-state tuition. Not only are non-residents subjected to higher tuition, they are also ineligible for state merit academic scholarships, need-based grants or education assistance grant programs.

The Southern Poverty Law Center together with SC’s Appleseed Legal Justice Center filed a class action law suit charging that policies that classify  U.S. citizens who reside in SC as “non-residents” for purposes of tuition, scholarships, and need-based grants “solely because their parents lack proof of citizenship or immigration status” are discriminatory. The lawsuit reads in part, “those policies invidiously discriminate against Plaintiffs and other students who are U.S. citizens, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

According to the lawsuit, approximately 170 SC students who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are illegal immigrants are expected to pursue higher education in the state each year. Approximately 140 of those students are expected to enroll in the state’s public colleges and universities.

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