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In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants and its Impact on College Enrollment, Tuition Costs, Student Financial Aid, and Indebtedness

  • Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina


    (San Diego State University)

  • Sparber, Chad


    (Colgate University)

The 1996 Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act barred states from giving unlawful residents postsecondary education benefits that states do not offer to U.S. citizens. In contrast to this federal law, several states have passed legislation explicitly allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. We use a difference-in-difference estimation methodology to assess intended and unintended consequences of this tuition policy. First, we find evidence consistent with past studies that postsecondary enrollment rates of Hispanic non-citizens have increased in treatment states relative to control states without negatively impacting the enrollment rates of native-born Americans. Second, state policies benefiting undocumented immigrants have not increased tuition and fees at comprehensive and community colleges attended by the vast majority of students, though rates have risen at flagship universities. Finally, despite some weak association with increased indebtedness among Hispanic natives, resident tuition subsidies for undocumented immigrants do not appear to have reduced financial aid or increased indebtedness for other demographic groups.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6857.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6857
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  1. Susan Dynarski, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," NBER Working Papers 7756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Neil S. Seftor & NSarah E. Turner, 2002. "Back to School: Federal Student Aid Policy and Adult College Enrollment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 336-352.
  3. Neeraj Kaushal, 2008. "In-state tuition for the undocumented: Education effects on Mexican young adults," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(4), pages 771-792.
  4. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa J. Sridhar, 2006. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 761-786, October.
  5. Aimee Chin & Chinhui Juhn, 2010. "Does Reducing College Costs Improve Educational Outcomes for Undocumented Immigrants? Evidence from State Laws Permitting Undocumented Immigrants to Pay In-state Tuition at State Colleges and Universi," NBER Working Papers 15932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bednar, Steven & Gicheva, Dora, 2013. "Tax Benefits for Graduate Education: Incentives for Whom?," Working Papers 13-17, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
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