Let’s Learn NC is project of the Adelante Education Coalition. This project advocates for the same college tuition for ALL North Carolina students, because higher education should be accessible to all state residents. To learn more about our efforts and the state of education for undocumented students in North Carolina, select a section.
North Carolina Policies
DACA and Tuition Exemptions-Jan. 2014: The purpose of this memo is not to communicate a change in the State Board’s “Admission to Colleges” policy, but to give colleges further clarification on how individuals with DACA classification should be treated under the State Board’s current “Admission to Colleges” policy. Again, it is important to note that the State Board of Community Colleges has not amended its “Admission to Colleges” policy.
FACT: Having an educated workforce is a key driver of economic growth and the most important indicator of one’s potential earnings over a lifetime.
FACT: by 2020, 61 percent of jobs in North Carolina will require higher education. Job growth is expected to increase by 21 percent in the same period.
FACT: So far, 16 states have passed legislation allowing certain undocumented graduates of high school to pay in-state rates for college (4 allow students to apply for financial aid). Others have introduced legislation.
“They are part of our future, so it only makes sense to lower barriers to additional educational advancement and achievement….The more education they attain, the better positioned they are to become contributing citizens,” said Republican State Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania after introducing legislation for his state to offer in-state tuition to qualified undocumented students.
FACT: Texas was the first state to pass legislation allowing eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition in 2001. Signed by Gov. Rick Perry, the bill received near unanimous support.
FACT: Maryland voters passed a referendum in 2012 to allow qualified undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition.
FACT: The estimated total net benefits to the economy of one graduating class of undocumented students who take advantage of Maryland’s in-state tuition policies are approximately $66 million in 2011 dollars.
FACT: Studies show 31 percent more Latino non-citizens enroll in higher education in states with inclusive in-state tuition policies.
FACT: Inclusive in-state tuition policies reduce the dropout rate of non-citizen Latinos by an estimate of 14 percent, studies show.
“Are we going to send these young people on a path to be successful and be part of the Texas success story? Or are we going to prohibit them because we’re not going to allow them to be able to afford to go to a university, and basically put them over onto government subsistence?”-Republican Gov. Rick Perry.[References for these facts are available upon request.]
TUITION EQUALITY: GOOD FOR OUR STUDENTS, GOOD FOR OUR STATE
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Sign Up for Updates: Fill in your email address and zip code using the form on the right of this page.
- Follow this link to raise your voice with Legislators. You can send an email to your state Senator and your state Representative in support of Senator Hartsell’s 2015 tuition equity bill.
- Contact Senator Apodaca to thank him for his efforts to ensure all North Carolina students can attend college. Call him at 919-733-5745 or email him at Tom.Apodaca@ncleg.net.
- Download and distribute a “Let’s Learn Talking Points” flyer.
- Submit a photo of yourself with a “Let’s Learn NC” sign – email your photo to TuitionEquityNC@gmail.com.
- Submit a short video sharing why YOU support the Let’s Learn NC campaign. Ideally, your video will be about 30 seconds (75 words). Share your first name, where you are from, and say why you believe in tuition equality. Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and send the link to us at TuitionEquityNC@gmail.com.
- Get your organization, business, or school to sign a statement in support of Senate Bill 463: Increase Access to Education. You can find a sample at this link. Send your letter of support to us at TuitionEquityNC@gmail.com.
- Get your college deans and president to sign on to a letter affirming the value of tuition fairness for all NC students. Send your finalized letter to TuitionEquityNC@gmail.com.
- If you are an undocumented student and have graduated, send a picture with your diploma, county of residence, and graduation year to DiplomaProjectNC@gmail.com. It will be featured at Diploma Project NC.
- Get involved with one of these local groups:
- Join our Youth Engagement calls (for high school and college-aged youth), contact Yazmin Garcia-Rico at email@example.com, or Megan Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Want someone to come to your group to offer a presentation on the need for tuition equality and how to get involved? Click here to request a speaker on educational access and tuition equity.
Continue to check back here and on our events page for updates and new initiatives.
TALKING POINTS (Download the Let’s Learn NC Talking Points for more information):
- One State, One Rate: College Tuition Should Be The Same For All NC Students
- When All NC Students Are Allowed to Learn, WE ALL WIN
- This is an Economic Development Issue
- These Are Qualified North Carolina Students, Ready for College and Ready for the Workforce
Last updated June 2015
The Supreme Court ruling Plyler vs. Doe in 1982 guaranteed the right of all students, regardless of immigration status, a high school education.
Sen. Eric Reeves (D-Wake) introduced SB 987: Increase Access to Education, which would have allowed an individual who has attended school in North Carolina for at least four years and received a high school diploma from a school within North Carolina or has obtained a general education diploma (GED) issued in North Carolina to be accorded resident tuition status. The bill died in committee.
The NC Community College System (NCCCS) issued a memo stating that local community colleges have the discretion to implement admissions policies that permit the enrollment of undocumented nonimmigrant applicants in curriculum, continuing education and basic skills programs. Undocumented nonimmigrant applicants do not qualify for in-state residency for tuition and shall be charged at the out-of-state tuition rate for curriculum programs.
The University of North Carolina System adopted guidelines that established that undocumented aliens may be considered for admission if they graduated from high school in the US. Admission for specific programs of study that requires professional licenses may influence admissions, because federal law prohibits states from granting these licenses to undocumented aliens. Undocumented aliens may not be considered a NC resident for tuition purposes and thus must pay out-of-state tuition.
Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) introduced HB 1183: Access to Higher Education & A Better Economic Future, which would have allowed immigrant students who are accepted to any North Carolina public university or community college, and who have graduated from a North Carolina high school and have lived in the state for at least 4 years, to be permitted to pay in-state tuition. The bill died in committee.
On November 7, the NCCCS released a memo stating that to comply with the State Board’s regulation requiring an open-door admission policy to “all applicants” and notwithstanding any policy of the local board, colleges should immediately begin admitting undocumented individuals. Undocumented individuals must be assessed tuition as “out-of-state” residents, subject to any tuition waivers granted by the General Assembly, such as Learn and Earn. On December 6, the NCCCS selected Scott Ralls, President of Craven Community College, to succeed Martin Lancaster as the new system president. Craven CC was one of the colleges that did permit undocumented students to enroll.
The UNC Tomorrow Commission recommended that the UNC system study the costs and benefits of offering in-state tuition to undocumented students at its 16 university campuses.
On May 13 the NCCCS changed its admissions policy to reflect the General Counsel’s advice to no longer admit undocumented students at any of the 58 schools. In July the Department of Homeland Security and NC Attorney General clarified that the NCCCS can decide admission criteria and that admitting undocumented students is not in violation of federal law. At their August 14-15 board meeting, the NCCCS board voted to keep the ban on admission until they could adequately study the issue.
The NCCCS hired John B. Lee, president of a consulting firm specializing in postsecondary education policy research in MD, to conduct their Admissions study. Based on the study’s recommendation, the NCCCS drafted a policy to admit undocumented students to community colleges and held a public hearing regarding the issue.
The NCCCS passed a policy to admit undocumented students to the state’s 58 NC community colleges, with the following restrictions: (1) undocumented students must pay out of state tuition, $7, 700 per year and, and (2) an undocumented student can be removed from a class that is full, if a legal resident or citizen wants to take the class. The rule will become law when the NC General Assembly adjourns unless a bill is passed that disapproves the rule.
On June 12th, President Barack Obama announced temporary protection for youth under “deferred action.” The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows youth who fulfill certain requirements to apply for a “work permit” during this two-year renewable period.
Representatives Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), and Charles Graham (D-Robeson) introduced HB 904: The In-State Tuition/Some N.C. Immigrant Youth Act, which would allow all young people who have graduated from North Carolina high schools and lived in the state for at least two years to pay the in-state tuition rates at our public colleges and universities. The bill passed its first reading and was referred to the Committee on Education. In September, The North Carolina Community College systems announced those students with DACA are eligible for business sponsor exemptions, which would allow them to attend colleges within the North Carolina Community College System at the in-state tuition rate.
On January 24th, the NCCCS clarified circumstances for undocumented students and issues regarding in-state tuition for both undocumented students and DACA students. Additionally this memo maintained the inability for undocumented students to obtain a professional license from the state of North Carolina.
On March 25th, Senator Fletcher Hartsell (R-Concord) introduced Senate Bill 463 with bipartisan support, calling for any individual who has attended school in North Carolina for at least three consecutive years immediately prior to graduation and has received a high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED) in North Carolina be granted resident tuition status.