Undocumented students and access to higher education : a comparative study by selected states
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It is estimated that approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools every year across the United States. However, only five to ten percent of these students go on to college (NCSL, 2011). Under U.S. law, undocumented students who wish to pursue a higher education are not eligible to receive financial aid and are treated as international students who must pay out-of-state tuition rates even if they have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives. Since federal legislation to help undocumented students enroll in colleges and universities has not passed to date, some states have taken the matter into their own hands and enacted a state version of the DREAM Act making undocumented students eligible to receive in-state tuition benefits and thus making college more affordable and feasible. Other states however have enacted opposing legislation creating financial obstacles for undocumented students to attend public colleges or universities or even prohibiting them from enrolling or attending these postsecondary institutions. The present study aims at examining states with current statutes or regulations either for or against in-state tuition benefits. Demographic data from 2000 and 2010 of the Latino populations in selected states are used to examine for associations between Latino population growth and the condition of population anxiety (Bobo & Hutchings, 1996; Semyonov et al., 2004; Fossett & Kiecolt, 1989; Esses et al., 2001) that might lead states to anti-immigrant legislation. The analysis indicates that states that have passed legislation to restrict undocumented students from public universities tend to have higher levels of recent Latino population growth compared with states that permit undocumented students to enroll in public universities and colleges. In addition, other factors, such as Latino historical presence and advocacy coalitions, are also assessed for their significance in impacting state legislation affecting the ability of undocumented students to attend public universities.