A plan to open in-state tuition, financial aid, and private scholarships to undocumented students cleared the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday. If the measure passes the House, Minnesota would become one of the most hospitable states for undocumented college students in the country.
Fewer than 500 students each year are expected to take advantage of the tuition aid now available to them. As long as the student had attended a Minnesota high school for at least 3 years and pledged to apply for legal status when they became eligible, they could access aid from the State Grant, Minnesota’s main public aid program, and from private scholarships at public colleges. Furthermore, expanding aid access comes at a negligible cost to the state. According to higher education officials, opening financial aid to undocumented students would use .03 percent of the State Grant’s budget, or the equivalent of adding two students to every state college.
The plan has been in the works for a decade, but similar measures have died due to lack of support. This time, the bill passed 41-23, even garnering some Republican votes. The state’s Chamber of Commerce also lauded the proposal as a way to train high-skill workers.
Fifteen other states offer in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, with Colorado most recently expanding in-state tuition to 500 current undocumented college students. Just three states — Texas, California, and New Mexico — offer financial aid as well as in-state tuition to these students.
Anti-immigrant lawmakers warn that allowing undocumented students to take advantage of in-state tuition amounts to a reward for illegal activity, even if they came to the country as children. Some states have even passed legislation specifically prohibiting undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state tuition or even attend public colleges.