The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday that immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status are not eligible for lower in-state tuition rates.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that existing federal and state laws do not allow the Phoenix-area Maricopa County Community College District to offer in-state tuition rates to DACA recipients. The court noted, however, that its decision “is not intended to foreclose any measures taken by the state, in compliance with federal law, to extend resident tuition rates to in-state high school graduates not lawfully residing here. Other states have done so.”
Matt Hasson, a spokesman for the Maricopa community colleges, said the court is reviewing the ruling with outside counsel and working to determine the impact for students. The published tuition rate for out-of-state residents attending the Maricopa colleges is more than three times higher than the rate for county residents.
“The ruling is troubling for the 2,000 DACA students currently enrolled in Maricopa Community Colleges,” Hasson said. “During the past five years, more than 600 DACA students earned an associate’s degree or a certificate from one of our colleges and are making valuable contributions to the health of our economy."
Bill Ridenour, the chair of the Board of Regents for Arizona’s three public universities -- Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona -- said in a statement that based on the ruling the universities would no longer grant in-state tuition rates to DACA recipients. Ridenour said that some DACA recipients could be eligible for a nonresident rate for Arizona high school graduates, set at 150 percent of undergraduate resident tuition.