Many thanks to the Detroit Free Press Newspaper and to the University of Michigan Regents for examining the policy of charging full tuition to students who are Michigan residents, but lack US citizenship or Permanent Resident (i.e., green card) status. Many such students are not even unlawfully present in the United States; they are lawfully in the United States, but simply stuck in the long wait for green cards. For example, I recently came across a student whose family was granted asylum, yet the University of Michigan was charging him out of state tuition because his green card was still a few years away due to government bureaucracy and long waiting times.
In my view, even undocumented students who reside in Michigan should be permitted to pay in-state tuition. This would not reward illegal behavior, as most of those students were brought to this country as kids, and hence are not considered to have committed a crime because they were so young and because it was not their choice. Most of their families support Michigan’s infrastructure through the payment of income, sales, property and other types of taxes. If every state charges their undocumented students out of state rates (which typically is much greater than in-state tuition rates), many will not be able to afford college, since they do not qualify for federal aid. We also need to remember that in-state tuitions are usually significant and would still enable colleges to prosper.
Finally, since history reveals that most undocumented youth will end up living here anyway, denying them reasonably affordable education would be tantamount to denying an otherwise promising segment of our youthful population the opportunity to get an excellent education that could be critically beneficial to our country in the future.