The Other College Scandal: Free Tuition for Illegal Aliens


March 28, 2019

By Jill Greenwald

In the recent “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, wealthy parents allegedly bought their children’s way into accredited universities by bribing admissions officials and submitting illegitimate standardized exam scores–consequently limiting spots for more deserving, less connected applicants. The players in this sordid affair have been rightly condemned for giving higher education a black eye. Colleges couldn’t sink any lower, right? Think again.

There is another college scandal still taking place that has received scant attention. Illegal aliens are routinely being given preferential treatment over deserving legal residents in the form of free or in-state tuition. The outrage at this has been limited, perhaps because most of the public is unaware of it.

The mainstream media has buried stories of states paying for illegal aliens to attend college. According to Campus Reform, “New Jersey forked over $1.6 million during the fall 2018 semester alone to help more than 500 illegal immigrants attend college. This is a result of Gov. Phil Murphy signing a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for state financial aid.”

In January, New York passed the New York State DREAM Act, which gives illegal alien college students access to financial aid. Advocacy groups, such as the New York State Youth Leadership Council, lobbied for the new law so that illegal alien students could receive New York’s state-funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Now, in addition to being eligible for in-state tuition, illegal aliens can also receive state-funded financial aid.

Attending college in the United States is considered a prerequisite to professional success, but the cost of a degree has become nearly untenable. Families struggle with financing degrees and students graduate with mountains of debt. Financial aid is available, but mismanaged states even botch that in some cases. In 2017, nearly a million students applied for and were found eligible for financial aid never received it because states ran out of money. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, American taxpayers are paying the freight for illegal aliens to attend college. As in the “Operation Varsity Blues” case, this practice of free tuition for illegal aliens demonstrates how higher education has become inherently corrupt.

Loopholes have also allowed colleges to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens. This action is in violation of Congress’ 1996 declaration that prohibits illegal aliens from receiving “postsecondary education benefits on the basis of residence.” California is one of many states that routinely places illegals aliens’ concerns above those of legal residents. The Immigration Reform Law Institute discovered that over a four-year time span, “non-resident U.S. citizen students have to pay nearly $100,000 more in tuition payments to earn an undergraduate degree from [the University of California at] Berkeley than do illegal aliens enrolled at taxpayer subsidized resident rates.”

Unfortunately, thanks to hyper-partisanship in Washington and the Democrats’ deep investment in anti-borders immigration policies, this anarchy in the ivory tower is likely to continue. Just as the left refuses to acknowledge that the current flow of migrants into the U.S. is well beyond what we can absorb, they also turn a blind eye to the practice of fully-subsidized or in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

Public and private universities are going as far as creating full-time administrative positions solely for the purpose of facilitating illegal alien students. The University of Maryland created the “undocumented student coordinator” position after the 2016 presidential election. Georgetown, California-Berkeley, Loyola-Chicago, and DePaul are among other institutions that provide extra resources to “protect” illegal alien students.

Wealthy parents buying college admission for their children is wrong, and so is the practice of giving free or in-state tuition to people who have no legal right to be in the country. State

Jill Greenwald is communications associate at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.