Who Pays In-State Tuition at UT?

Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry has recently drawn fire from a conservative student group at his alma mater, Texas A&M, for his continued support of a 2001 bill that allows some undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition. The debate came to UT when a pro-immigrant student group here, the University Leadership Initiative, voiced its support of the bill. Confused about who can get in-state tuition, what the “Texas Dream Act” really is, or how it applies to UT? Here are some quick facts:

  • To qualify for in-state tuition, students must file for state residency. In Texas, this usually means students who have a parent living in Texas, or who have graduated from a Texas high school and lived in Texas for 36 months prior to graduation. Read more about residency requirements here.
  • In 2001, the majority-Republican Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1403, sometimes called the “Texas Dream Act.” (Unlike the proposed federal Dream Act, the Texas law does not involve a path to citizenship.) The law removed immigration status as a factor in determining Texas residency. Prior to 2001, some immigrant students did not qualify for residency because of their status.
  • To qualify for residency under HB 1403, a student must have lived in Texas at least three years, be a graduate of a Texas high school, and file a formal intent to apply for U.S. residency. Last year, 612 UT-Austin students filed that intent, according to Dominic Chavez, a spokesman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Chavez says that most, but not all, of those students are likely undocumented.
  • Not all students qualifying for residency under HB 1403 are undocumented. The bill covers both documented and undocumented immigrant students.
  • In 2008, students qualifying for residency under HB 1403 made up less than one percent of all public university enrollment, according to a state report.
  • Perry still supports the bill, even while other Texas Republicans have changed their minds about it.  In a September debate, he said, “I don’t think you have a heart [if you oppose educating undocumented students].”
  • This fall, 79.9 percent of UT-Austin students are Texas residents, 11 percent are from other states, and 9 percent are international students (source: Office of Information Management).

Creative commons photo by Jim Nix on Flickr


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