The state of Missouri does not provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students by law at its public higher education institutions — but that isn’t stopping one college from taking action on its own.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that St. Louis Community College has decided to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students. That will cut the tuition rate from the international rate of $209 to $98 for students local to the college’s area and $144 for other Missouri residents.
Since community colleges have much lower tuition than universities they are often the only place affordable for undocumented students. Undocumented students are still not eligible for federal financial aid.
“The door is cracked open a little bit for some students,” Faith Sandler, executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, told the newspaper. “It’s a great move on the part of the community college. Hopefully, others will follow.”
The University of Missouri-St. Louis is also considering cutting tuition rates for undocumented students. College officials said that it was rare that any undocumented student was able to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the college.
Students who were granted “deferred action childhood arrival,” or deferred action, will benefit from the change. It will be interesting to see if other states or colleges make similar action due to the deferred action policy, which will allow qualified students to stay in the United States for work and study.
The program, “Universidad Ya!/College Now!” based in St. Louis, supported the decision by the community college. The organization’s president, Washington Spanish professor Virginia Braxs, told the Riverfront Times that the move is a step forward. She noted that many of her students must support themselves by working through college.
“This community of young people is graduating from high school,” she said. “They face huge barriers. They make great sacrifices — all my students work part time through high school and college to contribute to their families.”