VA Gov. Northam makes undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition, assistance programs

Beginning August 2022, Virginia will provide in-state tuition and tuition grants to students regardless of immigration status.

The legislation passed strongly along party lines at the same time American families face rising expenses for higher education.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made the commonwealth’s in-state tuition rates available to 12,000 undocumented students. 

Northam signed SB1387 and HB2123 on June 14 at Marymount University, located in Arlington. The new legislation, which goes into effect August 1, 2022, will also make undocumented students eligible for state tuition assistance programs. 

Virginia has over 270,000 undocumented immigrants.

Undocumented students wishing to receive in-state tuition will need a guardian to provide proof of tax filings for two years. The student must have also attended at least two years of high school in Virginia. 

“Being an illegal immigrant is supposed to be hard … and [it should be] unappealing to stay illegally,” Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian told Center Square. 

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HB 2123 passed in the state’s Senate 20-18 strongly along party lines with Republicans opposing.

“You can’t put a stop sign up to thousands of amazing students who don’t have an avenue to move forward,” bill sponsor and Democratic State Delegate Alfonso Lopez told ABC 13 News. “They were brought here through no fault of their own by parents who were trying to get their kids a better life.”

Blasting the bill, calling it a ‘misplaced priority,’ Republican Virginia State Delegate Jason Miyares said in an interview to WVRA radio in February 2021. “It’s not the Dreamers that people talk about, its for anybody who enters this country illegally.”

Virginians are being “taken advantage of” by Democrats who are helping people who “cut the line” compared to “people that follow the rules,” Miyares continued.

Campus Reform continues to report on the costs of higher education, particularly rising tuition prices and university and state budgets. 

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Average in-state 2020-2021 tuition and mandatory fees for Virginia public universities amounts to nearly $14,000.00. Some universities cost upwards of $23,000.00. 

The University of Virginia announced in June 2020 announced that it would accept any student, regardless of immigration status. “We should be open to all qualified applicants,” University of Virginia President Jim Ryan shared. “This decision is an important step in the right direction.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SergeiKelley