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Az judge: Dreamers entitled to in-state tuition

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Az judge: Dreamers entitled to in-state tuition

  • DREAMers at a rally in front of the Arizona Capitol.
    Alonso Parrera/Lamp Left MediaDREAMers at a rally in front of the Arizona Capitol.

"Dreamer" college students across Arizona may be affected by a Tuesday ruling that those covered by deferred action immigration status are eligible for in-state tuition.

Although the decision by a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson focused on Maricopa Community Colleges, it could affect tuition rates for immigrant students across the state.

Dreamer students already pay in-state tuition at Pima Community College, a policy approved by the Governing Board in 2013.

Tuesday, Anderson rejected arguments by former Attorney General Tom Horne, who sued Maricopa County's community college board over a their 2013 decision to allow students who had been granted work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pay lower tuition rates. 

Horne argued that the Maricopa Community Colleges could not offer in-state tuition because of a 2006 voter-enacted law known as Proposition 300. Under the law, students who are in the country without authorization cannot receive in-state tuition and financial aid. 

Anderson decided that only the federal government could determine who was in the country legally and thus "Dreamers"—young adults covered by the deferred action from deportation program—are eligible for in-state tuition. 

This decision comes as the Arizona Board of Regents passed new tuition increases to balance cuts made to the university system by the governor and Legislature. 

At the University of Arizona, incoming in-state students would pay $11,403, while nonresidents, including Dreamers, would pay $32,630 per semester. 

The regents are considering a special rate for Dreamers that would allow them to pay 150 percent of the in-state tuition fees for incoming students, but decided to postpone voting on the measure until they meet again in June.

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