Arizona Voters Approve Proposition to Give Non-Citizens In-State College Tuition

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

A ballot measure that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students in Arizona was narrowly approved by voters on Monday night, the Associated Press called

The measure, Proposition 308, asked voters whether non-citizen residents of Arizona should be eligible for in-state tuition at Arizona state universities and colleges. Voters were split evenly on the measure, with The New York Times reporting that “yes” votes have a lead of almost 60,000 ballots, or 51.2% of the vote, with over 95% of all ballots counted. 

With the proposition passing, all students regardless of immigration status will pay in-state college rates as long as they attended Arizona high schools for two years and graduated. Arizona joins a handful of other states — including California, New Mexico, and Texas — that offer in-state tuition to students attending the state’s public colleges and universities who meet certain criteria, regardless of their immigration status, according to the National Immigration Law Center

The passing of Proposition 308 repeals part of a previous measure, Proposition 300, that passed back in 2006 and barred non-citizens from receiving state-subsidized services, including in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid, the Arizona Mirror reports. In 2019, the Arizona Board of Regents responded and ruled that undocumented students could pay 150% of in-state tuition instead of paying the out-of-state rates. However, proponents argued the ruling still wasn’t enough since undocumented students couldn’t access state or federal financial aid. 

“Voters from Arizona, from a border state rejected demonization, rejected scare tactics and chose solutions,” said Bob Worsley, a retired Republican state senator and co-chair of the Yes on 308 campaign, in a statement. “Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans and Independents decided to change the constitution to treat immigrant children raised in Arizona with humanity. Now Democrats and Republicans must come together and follow Arizona’s example to move forward bipartisan immigration reform in Washington for dreamers, farm workers, and every American hurting from inflation caused by labor shortages in most industries.”

Advocates for the proposition say that the measure will keep prospective college graduates in the state to help grow Arizona’s economy. According to the American Imigration Council Research, more than 3,600 Arizona high school graduates do not qualify for in-state tuition at Arizona state schools each year. And data analyzed from the Migration Policy Institute found that there were about 273,000 undocumented people living in Arizona in 2019. 

The current in-state tuition for an undergraduate at a four-year public institution in Arizona is $10,978 and the 150% rate previously offered to undocumented students was $16,467. The Associated Press reports that 300 students are currently paying a non-resident rate. 

“The voters are much smarter than the professional politicians. With inflation hurting the pocket books of every American, voters chose solutions,” said Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition and advocate of the Yes on 308 campaign, in a statement. “The scare tactics, the demonization of immigrants failed. A key take-away from this election is that using immigration as a wedge to take power has limited utility.”


Publication Date: 11/17/2022

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