In-State Tuition Access for Immigrant Students in Massachusetts
Information Sheet

The Problem

Each year, tens of thousands of undocumented students, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, graduate from U.S. high schools. Most were brought here at a very young age by their parents and thus had no part in the decision to enter the country illegally. Almost all of them speak English and consider themselves Americans; they've grown up here and are here to stay, but their lives are filled with uncertainty and hold little future so long as they cannot realize their dream of going to college.

Federal law discourages states from providing in-state tuition or higher education assistance to these children. As a result, most will be prevented from attending college because they cannot afford out-of-state tuition and do not qualify for Pell grants or student loans.

The Cost

The current law is detrimental to everybody, not just to the children who are forced to defer their dreams. When significant numbers of talented students in our communities are prevented from reaching their full potential, we all suffer. Class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youngsters committed to bettering society have all been subject to the same harsh rules.

  • Massachusetts, and America, should compound the educational investment already made in these students who have come through the public school system.
  • Without access to higher education, undocumented students too often wind up in dead-end, low-paying jobs, unable to support themselves and their families and unable to contribute to society. By educating these young people, we reduce the burden on social services and bolster the pool of qualified workers.
  • The realization that college is out of reach can leave students discouraged and questioning the value of even finishing high school.
  • If left unaddressed, current law may contribute to the creation of an uneducated underclass.


Legislation being introduced by Senator Pamela Resor for the 2003 session of the Massachusetts State Legislature would make a college degree more attainable by allowing children of undocumented workers to pay resident tuition provided they've resided in the state for a number of years and gone through the Massachusetts school system.

If enacted, Massachusetts would follow suit with other states such as Texas, California, Utah and New York that currently have similar state legislation in place.

Back To Jorge Ortega