The benefits of extending in-state tuition to undocumented students in Virginia far outweigh the costs, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.
The organization found that the policy, enacted in 2014, does not create a cost burden to the state and has not resulted in overcrowded classrooms.
“The cost to colleges and the state of providing access to in-state tuition for students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration status is small compared to the potential economic benefits,” the institute noted in a press release highlighting the report’s findings.
In fall 2016, roughly 1,300 students with DACA status attended public colleges in Virginia. Most of those students were enrolled at community colleges.
“The public funding that enables states to charge lower college tuition to their residents is a common-sense investment the state makes in young people,” the report notes. “Lowering the cost barrier to obtain an education means more productive Virginians, helps employers find the workers they need, and strengthens the state’s economy.”
The institute released its report earlier this month, noting that uncertainty about the future of DACA puts undocumented students at risk of losing access to in-state tuition. Twenty states currently provide in-state tuition for undocumented students.
Rolling back that policy would be a mistake for Virginia, researchers from the institute assert.
In the commonwealth, full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make an additional $1.3 million in lifetime earnings when compared to high school grads. Those with an associate degree take home an additional $400,000.
“Obtaining a college degree—or even attending college but not completing a degree—provides skills and knowledge that leads to higher productivity, lower likelihood of unemployment, and higher wages,” report authors note.
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