Government Relations

UW System Position on Bills Introduced in the Legislature During the 2005-2006 Session

Pending Legislation

AB 576

Resident tuition for undocumented students

Full Description

(Colon) This bill allows an alien who is not a legal permanent resident of the United States to pay resident, tuition if: (1) he or she graduated from a Wisconsin high school or received a GED, (2) was continuously present in Wisconsin for at least one year following the first day of attending a Wisconsin high school; and 3) enrolls in a UW System institution or technical college and provides the institution with an affidavit stating that he or she has filed or will file an application for permanent residency with the INS as soon as the person is eligible to do so.

NOTE: A similar provision was included in Governor Doyle’s biennial budget AB 100, but was rejected by the Joint Finance Committee

UW System Position

SUPPORT: Resident tuition is approximately $10,000 to $14,000 lower than non-resident tuition. Allowing qualified undocumented students living in Wisconsin to pay resident tuition would make higher education somewhat more affordable for undocumented students. Undocumented students are still not eligible for financial aid.

Legislation similar to AB 576 has been enacted in several other states including Texas, California, Kansas, Washington, Utah, Illinois, and New York. Similar legislation is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Prior to July 1, 1998, states exercised discretion as to whether to charge undocumented aliens in-state tuition. After that date, federal law (8 U.S.C. s. 1623) was enacted prohibiting states from providing illegal aliens with benefits not available to all U.S. citizens.

The intent of the federal law has been unclear regarding tuition. For example, the California Legislative Counsel opined that a law similar to AB 576 would not violate the federal act because any U.S. citizen who met the bill’s requirements imposed on undocumented aliens would also be eligible for resident tuition.

The UW System would not be in a position to verify the student affidavits.