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Bill would allow DACA recipients to qualify for in-state college tuition in Nevada

A blank DACA immigration form.
Natalie Van Hoozer
KUNR Public Radio
A DACA application form.

Lea en español.

A bill would allow DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition at all public schools and colleges after living in Nevada for a year.

Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program could qualify for in-state college tuition if lawmakers pass Assembly Bill 226.

The proposed measure would apply to individuals with temporary protected status who have lived in Nevada for at least 12 months.

“What about Deferred Action Status holders who move into our state after graduating high school in a different state?,” said Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva, the bill’s sponsor.

“For U.S. citizens and documented permanent residents, the fix is simple: establish residency in Nevada for twelve months. That’s it. Once you do this, you qualify for in-state tuition. It is impossible for a DACA recipient to do this if they move to Nevada from a different state,” D’Silva said during the hearing.

According to recent data, there are 589,660 DACA recipients in the U.S., of those 11,460 live in Nevada. Their average age is 28.

Undocumented students, including DACA students, are not eligible for federal student aid. However, they may be eligible for state or college financial aid, in addition to private scholarships.

Janet Najera, social services coordinator at the University of Nevada Reno works with undocumented and DACA students. An out-of-state student pays three times more than an in-state student, she said.

“This definitely has a big impact on how much they pay per year. As of right now, an in-state student is currently paying $7,876 for 30 credits a year. An out-of-state student is currently paying $24,832,” she said. “It's not fair that due to status, a student is unable to become a state resident and pay what another student is paying just because their immigration status isn't listed on the form.”

Three years ago, Teissy Angel moved from California to Nevada. She currently attends the College of Southern Nevada part-time.

“Because I don't qualify for in-state tuition, I was blessed to obtain scholarships that covered the majority of my tuition. Students like me should not have to worry about paying for (an) additional $5,000 per semester out of pocket. If this bill passes, I would be able to work part time and attend school full time,” she said.

During the hearing, only one person testified in opposition.

Cyrus Hojjaty said the bill seeks to expand subsidies and resources to people who didn't follow immigration laws.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.
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