Some illegal aliens would be able to pay in-state tuition rates at Arkansas colleges and universities under a proposal a state lawmaker introduced Monday that aims to provide more education opportunities for students who entered the country as children.
Sen. Joyce Elliott’s proposal would grant in-state tuition rates to anyone who has attended an Arkansas high school for at least three years and has an Arkansas high school diploma or general education diploma in the state.
Supporters say it would more fairly treat students who came to the U.S. illegally as children and who currently have to pay higher out-of-state rates despite having grown up and gone to school here.
Out-of-state tuition rates in Arkansas are about twice the in-state rates. In fall 2012, about 12.5 percent of the 156,252 students who were enrolled in public colleges and universities paid out-of-state tuition, said Arkansas Department of Higher Education spokesman Brandi Hinkle.
Still, Elliott last week downplayed the immigration angle of the measure, which will likely face challenges in the newly Republican-controlled Legislature.
“This is an education bill,” Elliott, D-Little Rock, said Friday. “It is not an immigration bill.”
She did not immediately return a phone call Monday.