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Bill Seeks In-State Tuition for Some Immigrants

A bill approved Tuesday in the Indiana Senate would allow some undocumented immigrants to be eligible for in-state college tuition.

The measure applies to students who were attending Indiana public colleges when the state's immigration law was passed two years ago.

State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) sponsoring the bill. She said Indiana cannot wait for the federal government to make a college education more affordable for undocumented immigrants, many of whom applied for a federal temporary amnesty program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“Most of these students are applying for Deferred Action,” Leising said. “Now, it’s my understanding that it takes four-to-six months for Deferred Action to be approved. But even with Deferred Action in Indiana, they will not be able to get in-state tuition without this bill passing.”

Under her measure, Leising maintains undocumented immigrants still could not receive state college financial aid, and new students would not be eligible for in-state tuition.

State Sen. Mike Delph (R- Carmel) worries the measure infringes on federal immigration law, and the rights of international students who lawfully come to Indiana.

“We’re going to open up ourselves up to a lawsuit by international students who lawfully come to the United States to study who have to pay out of state tuition,” Delph said. “So, we’re basically giving a break to folks unlawfully in the country, who are good people. That’s not the issue, but we’re going to make foreign students that come here lawfully pay out of state tuition. I think there’s some real legal problems with this.”

Some immigrants say they have quit college because of skyrocketing tuition costs.

The Senate voted 35-15 to move the bill to the House.