In-state Tuition for International Students Illegally in the Country?

In-state Tuition for International Students Illegally in the Country?

March 19, 2013

By David Olen Cross

A group of thirteen Oregon State legislators, both Representatives and Senators, have introduced legislation (House Bill 2787 and Senate Bill 10) on both sides of the state capital that would grant in-state tuition to a special interest group of international students illegally in the country.

One of the great misnomers used by proponents of in-state tuition for international students illegally in the country is to describe both pieces legislation as “tuition equity” when what both HB2787 / SB10 would do is to exclude those same benefits to legal lifelong American citizens in neighboring states — and proponents call that “tuition equity”.

Problematic with the mirrored house and senate bills is that neither piece of legislation has a sunset clause that would limit number of illegal international students who could receive instate tuition in the future; a lack of a sunset clause if either piece of legislation becomes state law will place a heavy economic burden on Oregon’s higher education system, cause an increase in tuition rates for students attending the state’s public universities, and cause an increased taxpayer burden to support state’s higher education system.

Crunching some numbers from the University of Oregon (UO), for years 2012-2013, the estimated undergraduate tuition and fees (15-credits per term) for an Oregon resident is $9,309 per year, while an international student is $28,659 per year. Under both HB2787 / SB10, the UO would be required to cut individual tuition and fees costs for illegal international students attending the university by $19,350 per year. The result of either piece of legislation becoming law, the UO would lose over a four-year period for every illegal international student attending the university $77,400.

How many illegal international students might actually attend Oregon’s four year universities?

The number comes from Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of Causa, the illegal foreign national rights organization, when in 2011 he indicated when similar legislation was offered (SB 742) there were 31,000 undocumented students who could potentially benefit from in-state tuition.

What would be the estimated total economic impact on Oregon’s higher education system if the either HB2787 / SB10 become state law?

Even taking into consideration that Oregon’s public four year universities have slightly different tuition rates and fees, the possible economic cost in lost tuition revenue to state’s higher education system, taking into account that all 31,000 illegal international students will attend the state’s four year public university system, could approach, using today’s numbers, a staggering 2.4 billion dollars.

Looking for a realistic approximation of how many of the 31,000 illegal international students (considering they are all likely of different ages) might attend Oregon’s four year public universities, over the next 18 years, the annual the number could approach as many as 1,722 students. The annual cost, using today’s numbers, of granting in-state tuition to 1,722 illegal international students could approach 33.3 million dollars.

Also problematic with the mirrored legislation is the limited amount of years that would be required for illegal international students to spend in Oregon’s public schools to receive the benefit of in-state tuition. A time of just three years attending an Oregon high school or getting a GED at a local community college is not long enough for them or their foreign national parents, likewise illegally in the country, to have contributed enough in taxes to the bricks and mortar, the infrastructure, of Oregon’s higher education system to merit in-state tuition.

Although Oregon taxpayers are often generous when it comes to the issues surrounding funding K-12  and higher education, what might be considered as real “tuition equity” by the state’s taxpayers is that illegal international students must have completed at a minimum of K-12 in the state’s public education system to be eligible to receive in-state tuition.

A final recognizable flaw with the house and senate bills is they fail to put students who are United States citizens in the state (residents), students who are U.S. citizens from other states (non residents), and students who are foreign nationals (legal international students with visas from their countries of origin) first in line to attended Oregon’s public four year universities, particularly in limited enrollment programs. Students legally present in the country should always be given first priority to enroll in the state’s public universities.

Oregonians should contact their state Representative and Senator and tell them to “Vote No” on both HB2787 / SB10, in-state tuition for a special interest group of international students illegally in the country.

David Olen Cross of Salem ( writes on the subjects of immigration and foreign national crime.


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