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Trending: Tuition Equality for Undocumented Immigrants May Hit 13th State


University of Hawaii may open its door to DREAMers.

CREDIT: Flickr/Antonio Villaraigosa

Affordable college and equality is the goal at the University of Hawaii (UH), which has proposed a policy to treat undocumented students as state residents, allowing them to pay in-state tuition. 

Undocumented students currently pay non-resident tuition of $11,000 per semester at UH. If the proposal passes students would save $14,000 in tuition annually.

Lui Hokoana, the university’s associate vice president for student affairs told the Honolulu Civil Beat, that seven current students would instantly see their tuition decrease, but he estimated this would benefit at least 300 students who would now enroll due to the reduced price.

Despite small numbers of undocumented immigrants in Hawaii in comparison to the rest of the United States, this proposal would give an opportunity to the estimated 40,000 undocumented people living in Hawaii, according to a 2011 Pew Hispanic study.

“Hawaii may be far behind with time zones, but they are really progressive,” University of Hawaii student Monica Merel told Campus Progress. “And this is another example of it as they are trying to make it an equal playing ground for all students.”

Hawaii joins 12 other states, including­—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington—who have passed university laws favorable for DREAMers.

Hokoana told the Honolulu Civil Beat he wants to “make sure they’re true DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, and didn’t have have a choice of coming to us."

In order for undocumented students to be eligible they must have lived in Hawaii for at least the past 12 months, graduated from a high school in the United States and sign an affidavit seeking legal status.

The university’s proposal was influenced by current plans for immigration reform.

“I think this is really good, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Merel. “If we can do it here in Hawaii then why can't we do it back in the mainland?”

Melissa Adan is a reporter for Campus Progress.

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