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Texas Judge Grants Out-of-State Students a Tuition Break

April 13, 2022

In a case that could have significant consequences for higher education in Texas, a federal judge ruled that out-of-state students cannot be charged higher tuition than undocumented immigrants.

The ruling came down Friday in a case that pitted the Young Conservatives of Texas Foundation against the University of North Texas. The Texas Tribune reported that the University of North Texas has already appealed and other university systems are watching the case closely.

The University of North Texas has argued that such a ruling could cost the college millions of dollars.

A state law, established in 2001, allows an undocumented immigrant who lives in Texas for three years and graduates from a Texas high school to pay in-state tuition rates. Plaintiffs argued, successfully, that out-of-state students shouldn’t be charged higher prices than undocumented immigrants under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

The law states, “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”

Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Sean Jordan ruled that “Texas’s nonresident tuition scheme directly conflicts with Congress’s express prohibition on providing eligibility for postsecondary education benefits, it is preempted and therefore unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause.”

Jordan was appointed to the bench by former president Trump in 2019.

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Josh Moody

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