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Texas Policy

Updated As Of: April 12, 2017

The state of Texas provides both in-state tuition and state financial to eligible undocumented students.

  • SB 1403 | In-state Tuition Eligibility Requirements

    • Graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Texas

    • Resided in Texas for at least three years as of the date the person graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma

    • Register as an entering student in an institution of higher education not earlier than the 2001 fall semester

    • Provide an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so.

For information on financial aid eligibility requirements click here.

  • SB 1819, introduced in 2015, would revoke undocumented students' eligibility for in-state tuition and financial aid.
  • In January 2015, SB 351 and HB 586 were introduced by Senator Birdwell and Representative Zedler, respectively, and were referred to State Affairs in February and March 2015. If passed, the bill would deny resident status, and therefore,  in-state tuition, to individuals not authorized to be in the United States.
  • In November 2014, HB 360 was introduced by Representative Keough and referred to State Affairs in March 2015. If passed, the bill would require students to verify citizenship or lawful residency in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates.
  • In November 2014, HB 209 was introduced by Representative Stickland and referred to State Affairs in March 2015. If passed, the bill would repeal tuition equity for undocumented students under the provisions outlined in SB 1403.
  • In November 2014, SB 117 was introduced by Senator Taylor and referred to Higher Education in  January 2015. If passed, the bill would require students to demonstrate eligibility for federal financial aid in order to be qualified to receive Texas state financial aid.
  • In 2009, the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas sued the Lone Star College system for providing undocumented students with in-state tuition and state financial aid. In October 2013, the court ruled in favor of the Lone Star College system and eligible undocumented students continue to receive in-state tuition and state financial aid. 
  • Texas became the first state to offer in-state tuition to eligible undocumented students in 2001 when the legislature passed SB 1403, which also made undocumented students eligible for state financial aid. 
  • SB 997 was introduced in February 2017. If passed, it would prohibit the enforcement of federal laws relating to immigration in places of worship, hospitals, public schools (including public institutions of higher education), and courthouses.
  • SB 619 was introduced in January 2017. If passed, it would require counties and municpalities to adopt and enforce an order or ordinance that would require cooperation with state and federal law inforcement in enforcing immigration laws.
  • HB 149, SB 4, HB 611, HB 754, and HB 762 were introduced in 2016. HB 889, HB 1109, HB 1308, and HB 3698 were introducted in 2017. If passed, they would prohibit local entities from adopting a rule, order, or policy that would prohibit the enforcement of immigration laws. As of March 15, 2017, SB 4 is left pending in the State Affairs committee.
  • SB 3301, introduced in 2015, would have allowed state residents to receive state identification cards, drivers licenses, and occupational licenses regardless of immigration status.
  • SB 1841, introduced in 2015, would have required verification of the immigration status of state employees if passed. 
  • SB 185, introducted in 2015, would have required cities and local government officers to comply with federal immigration laws, but it died in May 2015.
  • HB 1777 was passed in 2013.  It asks for a study of the effects of wait times at the southwest border on international trade. It will focus on the necessities to improve commerce and tourism at the Texas border, rather than expending resources ‘securing’ the border. 
  • Texas adopted 96 resolutions commending the contributions of immigrants and seeking federal action in 2013.
  • In 2011, Texas legislature revoked undocumented immigrants' ability to receive and renew driver’s license. HB 3206 would have returned undocumented immigrants’ right to obtain driver’s licenses, but failed to pass in 2013.
  • After similar bills were previously filed in 2007 and 2009, the state legislature introduced over 100 immigration bills in 2011. Arizona-style anti-immigrant bills include:
    • HB 12, which would have given law enforcement officers the ability to divert their attention away from public safety enforcement and focus on enforcement of federal immigration laws.

    • HB 17, which would have incorporated federal immigration law into state criminal code.

    • HB 1202, which would have made knowingly hiring an undocumented worker a state jail felony. 

  • Starting in 2006, the City of Farmers Branch passed a series of anti-immigrant housing ordinances that have been ruled unconstitutional multiple times, most recently in a Supreme Court decision.
  • Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance is a statewide network dedicated to the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. 
  • Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition promotes social and economic justice for all immigrants through organizing, public advocacy, and public education.
  • ACLU Texas provides policy reports and litigates to protect the civil and human rights of all people.
  • Texas Organizing Project works to improve the lives of low-income and working class Texas families through grassroots lobbying and electoral organizing. 
  • Texas Civil Rights Project provides pro bono legal and social services for victims of civil rights abuses in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.
  • MALDEF (Southwest Region) is the largest Latino legal civil rights organization. It implements advocacy and education programs as well as litigates for social equality.

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.

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