Respect Equality

Arizona voters approve extension of in-state college tuition breaks to noncitizens

Proposition 308 passed by a very narrow margin on Monday.
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Story at a glance

  • Arizonans passed a new ballot proposition on Monday that would give noncitizens the chance to apply for financial aid for college and be eligible for in-state tuition.

  • Proposition 308 passed by a very narrow margin earlier this week with supporters only having a 59,000-vote lead.

  • The measure will benefit at least 3,600 undocumented high school students a year hoping to attend college.

Arizona voters approved a new ballot proposition that would allow noncitizens living in the state to be eligible for in-state college tuition.  

Under the measure, students in Arizona regardless of immigration status would also be eligible for in-state tuition if they attended an Arizona high school or were homeschooled in the state for two years. They would also be eligible for financial aid at state universities and community colleges as well. 

Proposition 308 passed Monday by a very narrow margin with yes votes making up 51 percent of the ballots, according to results posted on the Arizona secretary of state’s website. 

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Supporters of the ballot proposition only held a 59,803-vote lead over those that opposed the measure as of Tuesday morning.  

By passing Proposition 308, Arizona joins about 20 other states that allow students regardless of citizenship status access to in-state tuition rates for college.  

The measure will drastically ease the financial burden of going to college for undocumented students. About 3,600 Arizona students will now be able to apply for financial aid or receive in-state tuition, according to the American Immigration Council, a Washington D.C-based nonprofit that advocates for immigrants in the United States.  

At one of the state’s largest public universities, the University of Arizona, annual instate tuition hovers at around $13,000 while out-of-state residents attending the school have to cough up $39,000 a year.  

In-state tuition at Arizona State University is around $11,000 a year while nonresidents have to pay closer to $30,000.  

Undocumented students have been forced to pay nonresident rates for college for years. In 2019, the Arizona board of regents extended a policy to try to make college more affordable for undocumented students, by knocking off between $9,000 and $18,000 of tuition at the state’s three largest public universities.  

But the reduced tuition rate for undocumented students still kept dreams of higher education out of reach for many.   

Even with the reduced rate, undocumented students who had attended an Arizona high school still had to pay 150 percent instate tuition.  

The American Immigration Council argues the additional students that could potentially enroll in and complete college could collectively earn more than $28 million a year in income, which could translate into $4.9 million more in federal income, state and local taxes paid every year.  

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