April 10 (UPI) — Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that college students covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program must pay out-of-state tuition rates.
The court unanimously agreed with a 2017 Arizona Court of Appeals’ ruling stating students enrolled in the DACA program, which allows young immigrants brought to the United States as children to legally work and study in the country, aren’t eligible for lower in-state tuition.
A full opinion further explaining the court’s ruling will be released by May 14, but the order was released Monday to allow students in the Maricopa Community Colleges system and other state universities as much time as possible to plan for those affected by the decision.
The ruling could force more than 2,000 DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” already attending Arizona public colleges to pay up to three times more for tuition.
President of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition Karina Ruiz told the Arizona Republic a lack of access to federal or state financial aid made it difficult for DACA recipients to pay in-state rates and the ruling will make pursuing higher education “almost impossible” for them.
Arizona State University’s in-state rate for undergraduate students is $10, 640 compared to $26,470 for non-resident students, while Maricopa Community Colleges offer an in-state rate of $6 per credit hour versus $241 for non-residents.
DACA recipient and director of advocacy at Undocumented Students for Education Equity Korina Iribe said the ruling will cause a decrease in students at Arizona’s universities and community colleges.
“Unfortunately, today, a decision was made to block access to education for deserving Arizona students,” said Iribe.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling, as he had previously maintained state colleges and universities were violating state and federal laws by granting in-state tuition to DACA recipients.
“It’s about time someone held them accountable, and that’s my job. My role as AG is to make sure you’re following the law,” he said.