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Arizona Policy

Updated As Of: March 21, 2017

The state of Arizona specifically prohibits in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. 
  • In 2003, the state of Arizona considered HB 2518, a bill that would provide in-state tuition to undocumented students, but the bill failed to pass.
  • From 2004 to 2006, the state of Arizona proposed but failed to pass legislation (HB 2392, HB 2069) specifically prohibiting in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. 
  • Proposition 300 (SCR 1031) prohibits public institutions from providing undocumented students with in-state tuition rates and requires institutions to charge out-of-state tuition rates for these students. The proposition became law in 2006.
  • In 2007, Arizona considered HB 2471, a bill that would make certain undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition, however, the bill did not pass.
  • SCR 1019 was introduced in 2014, and is currently held in committees.  If passed, it will give access to in-state tuition, state financial aid and scholarships for students who meet certain criteria, regardless of their status; exempts adult education and post-secondary education from restrictions based on immigration status.
  • HB 2335 was introduced in 2014 and was held in committees. If passed, it would have created a separate tuition rate, not to exceed 110% of in-state rate, for students who are federally authorized to be in the US, have resided in AZ for 4 years, and meet certain other criteria (DACA recipients). 
  • The State of Arizona sued the Maricopa County Community College District for providing reduced tuition rates to DACA recipients. Pima Community College - Tucson also provides discounted tuition rates to some undocumented students but was not named in the lawsuit.
  • The Supreme Court upheld SB 1070, Arizona's “Show Me Your Papers" bill. However, multiple modifications were made to reduce the impact of the anti-immigrant bill. The ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center offer more information about SB 1070.
  • Through HB 2779 (Arizona Fair and Legal Employment Act) and HB 2745 all Arizona employers are required to use E-Verify as of December 31, 2007. In addition, government contracts can only be issued to businesses using E-Verify.
  • In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law HB 2281, which bans ethnic studies in the classroom.
  • SB 1406 was passed in 2011 and gives the Governor of Arizona the power to enter into an interstate compact to construct and maintain the US-Mexico border fence.
  • The following departments have Secure Communities programs in place: Arizona Department of Corrections, City of Mesa Police Department, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
  • In the summer of 2014, the Ninth Court panel preliminarily enjoined the state of Arizona from implementing a policy that prevents DACA recipients from obtaining driver's licenses in Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer.
  • SB 1123 was introduced to the Senate in 2016 and would provide access to in-state tuition for refugees without a 12 month waiting period but is currently in review under Education, Appropriations, and Rules since early January.

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.