Including Undocumented Students in Tuition-Free Community College Proposals

Congress is considering a proposed budget reconciliation package that would include tuition-free community college for eligible students without regard to the students’ immigration status. States that receive federal grants under this program would not be able to deny tuition-free community college to students based on “citizenship, alienage, or immigration status.” The purpose of this brief is to provide an overview of undocumented students’ current access to in-state tuition and state financial aid, including Promise programs, and the economic and state-level benefits of increasing college access and equity for all students through tuition-free community college.

Congress’ proposal on tuition-free community college will complement current state policies by further removing financial barriers to degree completion. The proposal smartly builds on state-led momentum that expands access to higher education to all eligible state residents, including undocumented students.

  • Pro-Workforce. Ensuring all state residents are eligible regardless of immigration status will help expand access to higher education and allow the American workforce to fill critical workforce shortages in key industries.
  • Builds on State Trends. Allowing all state residents to more easily access higher education is a policy already followed, with some variation, by almost half of all U.S. states, encompassing most undocumented students in higher education in the U.S.

Read the full policy brief here.