Higher Education
3:21 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

More Than 100 Undocumented Students Benefit From In-State Tuition Law

It's been several months since a new law went into effect allowing illegal immigrants to pay the in state tuition rate at public colleges and universities in Connecticut.

As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, more than one hundred undocumented students have signed affadavits to qualify for the rate this semester.

Before the in state tuition law, any undocumented student who wanted to attend University of Connecticut, a community college or a state university, was charged the out of state tuition rate. That meant an illegal immigrant paid almost double the tuition a Connecticut resident paid even though the immigrant had lived here much of his life.

That inequity is what encouraged supporters of the in state bill to lobby legislators starting in 2007. Their efforts were finally successful when newly elected Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy signed it into law this past summer.

Since that time, one hundred thirty-eight illegal immigrants are studying at a state university or community college.

State Representative Juan Candelaria of New Haven was one of the bill's sponsors.

"I'm actually surprised that it's 138, actually, I thought is was going to be a lot less."

Twelve undocumented students are enrolled at UConn. Sixteen are studying within the Connecticut state university system, many are at Southern. But most of the undocumented students are enrolled at community colleges, a total of one hundred and ten. Thirty-one are taking classes at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.

Opponents say the law takes seats away from students living in Connecticut legally. But Candelaria disagrees.

"These are kids that were raised in Connecticut,  they don't know their home country. For them home is United States, for them home is Connecticut.  It's based on their academic performance not based on their residency."

Candelaria says they're also paying out of pocket for their education and are not benefitting from scholarships or education grants.

Connecticut is among twelve states with an in state tuition law.