DREAM Ruling: High Court OKs In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to California's policy of granting reduced, in-state tuition at its colleges and universities to graduates of its high schools who are undocumented immigrants. In-state tuition is about one-third less than out-of-state tuition.

Eight other states—Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington—have passed similar provisions allowing undocumented students to pay the lower rate at all public colleges and universities, some of which are considered among the top schools in the country. Required for in-state tuition is a diploma from a California high school and attendance at said school for at least three years.

A group of out-of-state students filed a lawsuit challenging the California law. They cited a little-known provision in a 1986 federal law that barred states from giving "any postsecondary benefit" to an "alien who is not lawfully present in the United States." 

But last year, in a landmark ruling, the California Supreme Court said the state's policy did not conflict with federal law because the tuition benefit is based on a student's high school graduation, not his or her residency.

The Supreme Court's decision upholds the November ruling and allows eligible undocumented students to continue paying in-state tuition rates.