Education
8:38 am
Tue March 19, 2013

U-M students rally for in-state tuition for undocumented residents

A small number of University of Michigan students and administrators have been meeting for months to examine the feasibility of offering undocumented students from Michigan in-state tuition.

Undocumented students pay international rates to attend U-M and they aren't eligible for federal financial aid.

For about the past year and a half, the Coalition for Tuition Equality has advocated to change the policy. The student group has run an aggressive campaign; among other things, they've held rallies on the Diag at the center of the Ann Arbor campus, staged sit-ins at meetings of the university's board of regents.

Since July, four students and three administrators have held on-and-off meetings to develop a report about undocumented students at U-M. The group has met with various departments on campus and, last fall, it traveled to California to learn how the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA have implemented policies to give undocumented residents in-state tuition.

Chanting "Education, not deportation," a few dozen students braved the rain and cold on Monday to rally in front of the Fleming Administration Building, which houses the offices of U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators, and hear an update on the coalition's progress.

Sanjay Jolly, who graduated from U-M in December and is one of the coalition's members of the working group with the university, spoke at the rally, but in an interview after the event, he said administrators support the idea of tuition equality, but they need to figure out how to make it feasible.

"Everyone really wanted to push this forward subject to legal, political and financial constraints," Jolly said. "So there's no doubt that there's broad support at every level of the administration."

He declined to comment on the contents of the report because it has yet to been released. Still, he said the university can set a precedent in the state to offering in-state tuition to undocumented resident students. Most public universities in Michigan don't give undocumented students in-state tuition. 

"As the University of Michigan goes, we widely expect, and University administrators widely expect that the rest of the state will follow," he said.

U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the report is in its final review stages. He said he expects it to be released "soon," but he declined to provide an exact date.

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom