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President Barack Obama greets students and other attendees after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 27, 2012. Jewel Samad/Getty Images. President Barack Obama greets students and other attendees after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 27, 2012. Jewel Samad/Getty Images.  

Major victory for illegal immigrant students in Michigan

The regents of the University of Michigan (UM) granted a hefty tuition discount to students who are in the country illegally.

The vote to establish in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants took place on Thursday, following months of discussion over the issue. The two Republican members of the Board of Regents voted against the measure.

Under the old tuition policy, illegal immigrants living in the state of Michigan were automatically considered out-of-state students. Now all residents of Michigan, regardless of whether they lawfully entered the U.S., will enjoy in-state tuition rates.

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is significant: Students who lack residency in the state of Michigan pay about $40,000 a year for tuition at UM, while in-state students pay just $13,000.

There are an estimated 29,000 college-age immigrants living in Michigan illegally.

Dan Morales, a UM sophomore and spokesman for the Coalition for Tuition Equality (CTE), praised the decision while bemoaning the lack of financial aid available to illegal immigrants. CTE will continue to pressure the university to find more ways to lower the cost of education for undocumented students, he said.

“In-state tuition is only one step to creating truly equal access to higher education for these students,” he said in a statement to The Michigan Daily.

Regent Andrea Fischer Newman, who voted no, expressed concern that the new policy violates federal laws against providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

“I’m concerned about whether this is appropriate under federal law and believe this type of national issue should be resolved at the federal level, although I am supportive of the expansion of in-state tuition for veterans who have served our nation,” she said in a statement.

The new policy also extends in-state tuition to all military veterans, regardless of residency.

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