Illegal Immigrants and Set Aside Aid

Texas law authorizes persons classified as Texas residents to pay a rate of tuition that is lower than those not classified as Texas residents. Section 54.052 of the Texas Education Code outlines specific guidelines for whether a student enrolling at an institution of higher education qualifies for the in-state tuition rate. Section 54.053 of the Texas Education Code defines the information required to establish Texas resident status for in-state tuition and state financial aid.

Can a non-U.S. citizen who is not in the U.S. on a visa qualify for in-state tuition?

Yes. A person who is not a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident of the U.S., may qualify for in-state tuition under current Texas law. Texas law does not stipulate citizenship as defined by federal statute as a prerequisite for Texas residency used to determine eligibility for in-state tuition. Instead, eligibility is based on a number of factors including the period of time a student resides in the state prior to enrolling in high school or acquiring a GED, whether the student graduated from a Texas high school or acquired a GED in Texas, and whether the student resided in Texas the year prior to enrolling in college.

Can a non-U.S. citizen qualify for state financial aid?

Yes. All state financial aid programs, with exception of the B-On-Time loan program and Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program, require recipients to be Texas residents and defer to residency guidelines established in Section 54.052 of the Texas Education Code. Therefore, students meeting those guidelines qualify for state financial aid programs, depending on financial need and other program-specific requirements. This includes students who are classified as non-U.S. citizens according to federal statute.

Background

In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1403 that made several changes to the Texas Education Code, including creating a path for non-U.S. citizens who did not claim legal residency status with the federal government to gain access to in-state tuition rates at Texas public institutions of higher education. To qualify, the legislation required a student to reside in Texas with a parent or guardian for 36-months (or 3-years) up to high school graduation (or receipt of a GED). The statute limited this pathway to resident status to non-U.S. citizens and required such students to sign an affidavit indicating intent to apply for permanent resident status.

Because of concerns regarding legal challenges to the statute, the 79th Texas Legislature further amended the residency requirements in 2005. The additional amendments maintained the 36-month pathway for non-U.S. citizens, but extended it to all individuals. Prior to these amendments, many U.S. citizens were inadvertently prevented from attaining Texas residency status because of unanticipated circumstances, such as students who live with a paternal grandparent who maintains domicile.

Who maintains and monitors affidavits completed by non-U.S. citizens seeking eligibility for in-state tuition and state financial aid programs?

Each institution of higher education is responsible for acquiring signed affidavits completed by students subject to requirements in TEC 54.053(3)(B) prior to classifying them as residents. State law does not delegate authority to the institutions or any other entity to monitor whether students are complying with the content or provisions of the sworn statement.

How many students currently qualify for completing an affidavit as required by statute in order to be considered a Texas resident to pay in-state tuition?

The number of students meeting statutory requirements for Texas residency for higher education purposes under TEC 54.052(a)(3) totaled 14,292 students in FY 2009 or 0.9 percent of total enrollment. Each of these students qualified for in-state tuition and met the residency requirement for state financial aid programs, under certain conditions. Below is a breakdown by sector of these students:

How many financial aid awards are provided to students who currently qualify for state financial aid by meeting the requirements of TEC 54.052(a)(3) and completing an affidavit as required by statute?

In FY 2009, 7,466 financial aid awards were provided to 3,716 students who met statutory requirements for Texas resident status for in-state tuition purposes under TEC 54.052(a)(3). This represents about 1 percent of students who received financial aid. The charts below detail these awards by higher education and financial aid sector:

 

How much state general revenue (GR) is used to support students who qualify for state financial aid by meeting the requirements of TEC 54.052(a)(3) and complete an affidavit as required by statute?

Coordinating Board staff estimates that the state GR—direct appropriations from the Texas Legislature—for formula funding provided to institutions for instruction and financial aid distributed to students totaled $23.6 million in FY 2009. The breakdown by each type of general revenue is as follows:

  • Formula Funding GR:      $ 17.1 M
  • Financial Aid GR:               $ 6.5 M

What is the total of tuition and fees paid by students who completed an affidavit as required by statute?

Institutions of higher education report students who completed an affidavit paid approximately $27.2 million in tuition and fees in FY 2009. When all state, institutional and private financial aid is applied to this amount, these students paid approximately $9.5 million out of pocket for higher education in FY 2009.