The University of Maine, a publically-funded institution, has ruled that illegal immigrants are now eligible for in-state tuition. Qualified students who are enjoying the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order allowing them to remain in the country will pay the same amount for tuition as do residents of Maine who are US citizens or legal residents.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the University of Maine system will afford in-state tuition eligibility for illegal immigrants “based on the same residency criteria and circumstances used for citizens.” Maine thus becomes the 21st state to offer in-state tuition to students in the country illegally. A number of private institutions offer financial aid to illegal immigrants as well.
Salvadoran national Fernando Martinez, who has lived in the US since the age of four, came with his family. He has lived in Portland ME for most of his life. As one of the first DACA recipients to pay the in-state rate University of Southern Maine. This means a difference of more than $12,000-a-year between the in- and out-of-state tuition charges. Because he is not a legal immigrant, Martinez is not able to obtain state or federal college loans.
Since DACA was introduced, illegal immigrants in Maine have received work permits, temporary social security numbers, and protection from deportation. In 2016, there were approximately 13 students among the approximately 29,000 students in the seven campuses of the University of Maine System.
The University of Maine System does not inquire into students’ immigration status when deciding on admissions but ask for the information because it is a determining factor as to eligibility for financial aid. Non-U.S. citizens are generally not eligible for federal financial aid. Universities and colleges are under no obligation to disclose the immigration information of their students to state or federal agencies because federal law protects students’ information.