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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Virginia immigrant youths can now pay in-state tuition for higher education

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has determined that undocumented immigrants youths who meet certain requirements are considered as having “Virginia domicile,” which means they are eligible for in-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities. Herring made the announcement April 29 at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC).

The ruling applies to immigrants that have been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) designation, which means they were brought to the United States as children.

“These hard-working Virginia students who have grown up and are an important part of our state’s economic future will finally be able to study at Virginia’s public universities without the barrier of out-of-state tuition,” said Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, chair of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO).

The importance of today’s decision “extends far beyond those who are immediately impacted,” said NVCC President Robert Templin Jr. “It is a signal to all New Americans who live in Virginia that our state recognizes the importance of developing their talent for the benefit of all of Virginia and values their potential contribution to our collective future.”

“I have had to suspend my studies for an entire year due to the high tuition costs,” says Alejandro Zuñiga, a Virginia high school graduate. “Today’s decision is a huge relief for me and the thousands of DREAMers who have grown up here and want to contribute to Virginia’s future.” He is referring to the DREAM Act, a goal of immigrant advocacy groups to allow youths brought here as children to not only be eligible for in-state tuition but get on a path to citizenship.

In 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allowed undocumented individuals age 30 or younger who were brought to United States when they were under age 16 to seek “deferred action,” which means they can apply to work here for two years without fear of deportation. As of September 2013, 9,000 Virginia youths applied for DACA status, and 7,000 of them have been approved.

The Legal Aid Justice Center filed a lawsuit in December asking the courts to overrule a policy the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia implemented at the request for former Virginia Attorney Ken Cuccinelli that required students with DACA status to pay the out-of-state tuition rate. Several members of the Virginia General Assembly, including Del. Kaye Kory of Annandale, had introduced legislation to address this issue.

The announcement by Herring is an immediate solution, which will benefit high school seniors planning to start college this year.


  1. incoming brown people rage comments in 3..2...1....

  2. Why do these reports call them "Virginia immigrant youths", rather than "children of illegal aliens"? Since legal immigrants could already get in-state tuition, wouldn't that be more accurate and informative?

  3. So their parents pay no state taxes but their children get in-state tuition. How does that compute?

  4. The U.S. (and Virginia) needs more immigrants from Central America; they are the future. Your time in the sun is over. Stop hating these people just because they are a different color or speak Spanish languages. They deserve free health care, free daycare, free education in the public schools, and subsidized college. Soon they will run the country -- these are the future voters. (Well, several thousand voted in the last elections, in northern Virginia alone.) Shut up and pay.