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Delaware Policy

Updated As Of: March 21, 2017


The state of Delaware does not have a policy giving undocumented students in-state tuition. However, Delaware Technical Community College and the University of Delaware already consider qualified undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Legislative History

  • HB 222, which would have allowed in-state tuition eligibility for undocumented students, was introduced in 2003 but failed to pass.
  • HR 59 was a resolution passed in 2004 that supported the DREAM Act but did not enact any legislation making undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition.
  • SB 169, which would have allowed current undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, was introduced in 2012 but failed to pass.
  • In 2014, Senator Robert Marshall introduced the Tuition Equity Act (SB 183). The bill is currently pending and if passed, will provide qualified undocumented students with in-state tuition.

Other Relevant Policies

  • In 2011, Delaware legislature attempted to pass SB 15 which would require certain employers to verify new employees legal status with E-Verify. The bill passed in the Senate, but died in committee in the House.
  • In 2012, the Supreme Court of Delaware ruled in Delaware Valley Field Services v. Saul Melgar-Ramirez that federal immigration law does not disallow undocumented immigrants from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for work injuries.
  • ACLU-DE worked with the state police to implement policies and procedures to enable officers to appropriately deal with non-English speakers in 2013.
  • SCR 36 is a resolution that established a task force to study the feasibility and make recommendations on the possibility of issuing Driving Privilege Cards to undocumented immigrants by October 31, 2014.
  • In 2015, Delaware legislature passed SB 59 which allows undocumented immigrants to apply and obtain a Driving Privilege Card, but the card can not be used for identification purposes.


  • ACLU Delaware is affiliated with the national organization and works to protect the rights of all people through legal and educational work.
  • Delaware Dream Team is a community-based organization focused on advocacy for the rights of immigrant youth.
  • La Esperanza: The mission of La Esperanza is to support the integration and empowerment of Hispanic immigrants.

Research and Policy Reports


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.