National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

Toolkit | Access to Postsecondary Education



The Public Supports Increasing Access to Higher Education for Immigrant Students


POLLING RESULTS DEMONSTRATE that almost half of the public believes that undocumented students who attend high school in their state and are accepted at a public college or university should be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates. Democrats, communities of color (particularly Latinos), and working-class families are the strongest proponents of providing in-state tuition rates to a state’s high school graduates, regardless of their immigration status.

Public Support for the DREAM Act (First Focus, June 2010).

  • A telephone poll conducted in June 2010 collected responses from 1,008 adults nationwide.
  • Participants were asked, “Do you agree that states—not the federal government—should have the ability to determine whether or not to provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students residing in their state?” The majority of participants (69%) agreed or strongly agreed with the proposition. The majority of Republicans (75%) and Democrats (66%) agreed or strongly agreed with the proposition.

Illegal Immigration: Gaps Between and Within Parties (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, December 6, 2011).

  • A telephone survey conducted in November 2011 collected responses from 2,001 adults nationwide.
  • Nearly half of the general public (48%) believes that an undocumented immigrant student who went to high school in his or her state and is accepted to a public college should be eligible for the in-state tuition rate.
  • Hispanics (77%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%) were most supportive of extending in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students.
  • Among political groups, Democrats (56%) and independents (51%) were most amenable to providing in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant students.
  • People younger than 30 years of age were most supportive of in-state tuition measures (61% favored). Individuals with family incomes of less than $30,000 were most supportive of in-state tuition rates for undocumented students (58% favored).

As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy (Mark Hugo Lopez, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, and Seth Motel; Pew Hispanic Center, December 28, 2011).

  • A nationwide telephone survey conducted in late 2011 collected responses from 1,220 Latinos, 557 of whom indicated that they were registered voters.
  • More than eight in ten (84%) Latinos said unauthorized immigrants should be eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges if they went to a high school in their state and were accepted at a public college. Support for in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants is greater among foreign-born Hispanics (90%) than native-born Hispanics (77%). Nevertheless, large majorities of both groups supported such laws.