The Arizona Board of Regents on Monday ended in-state tuition for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients after the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld a state appellate court decision, which held that DACA recipients in Maricopa County are ineligible for in-state tuition rates.
“With the Arizona Supreme Court decision today prohibiting Maricopa County Community College District from granting in-state tuition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, the Arizona Board of Regents, effective immediately, will no longer interpret its policies to offer in-state tuition to DACA students,” Arizona Board of Regents Chair Bill Ridenour said in a statement. “Last June, the board announced that until a decision was reached by the Supreme Court in the State of Arizona v. Maricopa County Community College District case, it would interpret its policies to allow eligible DACA students to pay in-state tuition.”
Ridenour added that he felt the state’s unanimous 7-0 Supreme Court’s decision “is a setback for DACA students” and the board is hoping that Congress “will establish the lawful status and presence” of DACA recipients.
In 2015, a Maricopa County Superior Court ruled that a DACA recipient was eligible for in-state tuition rates, but the Arizona Court of Appeals court overturned that decision in 2017. According to the Arizona Republic, the state Supreme Court on Monday “issued a brief decision order saying justices unanimously agreed with the Arizona Court of Appeals’ ruling that said existing federal and state laws don’t allow the Maricopa Community Colleges to grant in-state tuition rates for DACA recipients.” A “full opinion further explaining the court’s ruling” will reportedly be released by May 14.
More than 2,000 DACA recipients reportedly “currently attend community college or a state university in Arizona and pay in-state rates.” In-state students who attend Arizona State University, for instance, “pay $10,640 this year, while non-resident students pay $26,470. Residents pay $86 per credit hour at the Maricopa Community Colleges, compared with $241 for non-residents,” according to the Republic. Since 2015, DACA recipients in Arizona have paid in-state tuition at Maricopa Community Colleges, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona.
The president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, Karina Ruiz, told the outlet that her group will start raising money to fund emergency scholarships because this is a “state of crisis.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said it is “about time someone held” the state’s colleges and universities that were providing in-state tuition rates to DACA recipients accountable. He added: “What makes this country unique and great … is because the rule of law means something.”
“While people can disagree what the law should be, I hope we all can agree that the attorney general must enforce the law as it is, not as we want it to be,” Brnovich said in a statement. “As Attorney General, my duty is to uphold the law and the will of more than one million voters who passed Proposition 300 in 2006.”
As Brnovich noted, Arizona voters in 2006 “approved Proposition 300 with 71.4% of the vote. The law provides that state-funded services and benefits, including in-state tuition and financial aid, can only be provided to individuals who have legal status.”