Advocates press for in-state tuition for undocumented NC students

Posted December 24, 2016

— As part of a unique Christmas Eve tradition, Latino advocates rallied Saturday for equal access to higher education in North Carolina for undocumented students.

Under North Carolina law, students who are in the country illegally aren't considered state residents, so they are ineligible for in-state tuition and must pay the higher out-of-state rate. That's true even for students in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allows them to remain in the U.S. and work and study without fear of deportation.

Members of the Adelante Education Coalition, a group of nonprofits that focuses on education issues affecting Latino and migrant students and their families, and the state NAACP demanded change in the rally.

"They do pay taxes. They do pay federal, state and social security taxes. Therefore, why do they not have the same access and the same rights?" said Anna Blackburn, vice president of the Harnett County NAACP.

Last year, at least two bills were filed in the General Assembly to change the tuition policy for undocumented students, but they never advanced.

Yasmin Aguilar, whose parents came to the U.S. 13 years ago, is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Sometimes, people questioned me, like, 'Oh, like why are you still trying so hard if you might not go to college?' and I didn't really have an answer for them," Aguilar said. "No matter how much I excelled, there would always be an extra hurdle standing in the way before the finish line."

In a statement to WRAL News, North Carolina Community College System President James Williamson said the 58-college system "was founded on, and remains, committed to access and affordability."

Aguilar was the 2016 valedictorian at Union High School and won a full scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill, so she didn't have to figure out how to finance her education. But she said she considers herself lucky.

"That means that only a handful get to go to college when everybody deserves the opportunity," she said.

Advocates said they fear DACA might end when President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month. Trump campaigned on rescinding President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Sue Sloan Jan 2, 2017
    user avatar

    If you are "undocumented", or "illegal" is actually the better term, why are you entitled to a benefit specifically stated for legal state residents???

  • Dwight Maxwell Dec 25, 2016
    user avatar

    I would think that we take care of our own citizens first. Undocumented students are here illegally. They should not be allowed in state tuition. I really don't see why our tax dollars are going to pay for them to go to our local schools!

    If you want to come to the United States go through the process and come here legally and I will be all for you getting in state tuition.

  • Marty McCaffrey Dec 25, 2016
    user avatar

    The subject of the article came here 13 yrs ago. They didn't say they whether they came legally or not, but I seriously doubt they did. So, she has a full scholarship at taxpayers expense and someone who is legally here got screwed out of one.

  • Jeffrey Derry Dec 25, 2016
    user avatar

    Be careful liberal progressives trying to destroy our great state with this nonsense.

  • Bob Owens Dec 25, 2016
    user avatar

    Criminal aliens--which is what they are--deserve nothing more than to be returned to their home countries after a stiff fine and perhaps a sentence on a chain gang. That they arrogantly thing they "deserve" anything that our law-abiding citizens are footing the bill for is infuriating.

    Go home and improve your own countries, instead of screwing them up, fleeing here, and repeating the process.

  • John Baird Dec 25, 2016
    user avatar

    What is with this obsession to spend NC citizens tax money on illegal aliens tuition? Your parents trespass into to a sovereign country then you demand preferential treatment. You have got to be kidding me. Pay the out-of-state prices like ever other non NC resident does. Also this myth that their parents file and pay NC and federal income tax is false. Whose social security number are they using? Not a legal one since they are illegal.

  • Betsy Sparks Dec 24, 2016
    user avatar

    I think the bigger priority is making sure that all NC citizens can afford to go to college. Before we offer more benefits to undocumented students, we need to meet the needs of citizens. They pay federal, state, and social security taxes too. Those students deserve access to affordable education.

  • Laurie Cortright Dec 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Are you kidding me? I'm an American citizen, born and raised here, just as my children are. We live less than a half hour from the Virginia/NC border, but for my kids to go to UVA we would have had to pay Out-of-State higher tuition. So, we opted for NC schools to get in-state tuition because we follow the laws and rules. So now someone who isn't even a legal American citizen should get in-state rates? No, sorry. Rules are rules, folks.

  • John Townsend Dec 24, 2016
    user avatar

    It's just moral preening. It's easy to be an "advocate" when you don't spend your own money.

  • Carrie Hurrelbrink Dec 24, 2016
    user avatar

    If you are here "illegally" then absolutely not. Why should we have to pay for their education. They already get our Government benefits that they should not be entitled to. In the meantime we pay more taxes, get hardly any raises to SSI/SSA, and our Veterans and Military suffer.