Enrollment of undocumented students increases

News Reporter

Since 2005, the university has seen a slight increase in undergraduate enrollment of undocumented students.

In 2005,18 undocumented students were enrolled at Texas State, according to the Office of Institutional Research. In 2010 there were three undocumented students, and in 2012 a total of 75 were registered. There are currently 93 undocumented students attending the university as of March, while 111 took classes during the 2013-2014 school year.

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry approved House Bill 1403. The bill allowed undocumented students to receive in-state tuition at any public college or university.

“The actual law states that for any student to gain in-state residency for tuition, the student has to have graduated from a Texas high school or received a GED in Texas,” said Col. Mike Russett, residency specialist at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. “(They must have) also lived in Texas for 36 months prior to the graduation date or receiving that GED.”

Russett said the student must also live in the state for a year immediately prior to attending classes at the university.

Students who are not legally citizens are required to fill out residency affidavits before they can be eligible to receive state aid, Russett said. The affidavit confirms a student has met the requirements of state residency.

“The extra component that the affidavit has is that it includes a part where they promise to apply for permanent residency as soon as they are able to do so,” Russett said.

During the 84th State Legislative Session, Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) introduced Senate Bill 1819 (SB 1819), which would bar undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates.

According to SB 1819, an individual who is not a legal United States citizen will not be considered a Texas resident and will not be able to receive state aid.

“For us as an institution, this gets down to how much the students are going to have to pay,” said Stephanie Anderson, assistant vice president for enrollment management. “Knowing that these students, if (they’re) undocumented, can’t get federal financial aid, how the burden is magnified.”

Anderson said undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal scholarships, grants or loans.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) reported a total of 20,049 undocumented students met state residency requirements to receive aid during fiscal year 2012. During fiscal year 2013, a total of 24,770 undocumented students were eligible and enrolled at a public institution.

Anderson said a majority of funding for state universities is from sales taxes. Community colleges receive funding from property taxes.

“It’s pretty hard to avoid sales tax, even if you’re not paying an income tax or property tax,” Russett said. “Everybody pays the sales tax.”

According to the Texas Education Agency and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 2012-2013, an estimated $20.28 billion of state taxes went to fund public education. The tax comprised 32.9 percent of the total for Texas public education funds.

“When I think of residency for tuition purposes, I think of it as the state sales tax,” Anderson said. “You can basically say that Texas has decided that you need to be contributing at least three years of sales tax as their benchmark whether you’ve established the residency that this is your home.”