The proposal, sponsored by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), would offer in-state tuition to DACA recipients that reside in Virginia; under current law, these hard-working Virginians are considered out-of-state and are ineligible for federal financial aid programs, rendering an affordable education inaccessible to many.
DACA recipients contribute to the economy and pay taxes that support the Commonwealth’s education system; they deserve the same opportunity to access affordable tuition as any other Virginian taxpayer. Denying them the chance to pursue an affordable college education handicaps the workforce by depressing their earnings or even encouraging them to move elsewhere. College access is critical for the future of Virginia’s economy, and undocumented students are part of that equation.
“Expanding in-state tuition access would fulfill the promise and investment already made to tens of thousands of Virginia students, many of whom were brought to this country at a young age through no fault of their own,” said Del. Lopez. “Many of them have known no other home but Virginia and the United States.”
Virginia has a long history of extending in-state tuition to residents who are not citizens but are nonetheless lawfully present; green-card holders and refugees, for example, already enjoy this benefit. DACA recipients deserve the same freedom to pursue their educational goals. Protecting in-state tuition for DACA students and fulfilling our investment in the remaining undocumented student population is the right thing to do—for these children and for the new Virginia economy.