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Georgia Policy

Updated As Of: March 21, 2017

  • The state of Georgia bans undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition. Additionally, the State Board of Regents prohibits selective public universities from enrolling undocumented students.
  • In 2001 and 2011, the Georgia state legislature considered but did not pass HB 1810 and HB 59, respectively, which would have extended in-state tuition to undocumented students.
  • In 2006, the Georgia state legislature passed HB 529, often referred to as the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which requires all employers in the state with greater than 10 employees to verify the immigration status of their employees. In addition, the law requires all parts of the government to verify that an individual has legal status in the U.S. before conferring a public benefit to the individual.
  • In 2008, the Georgia state legislature passed SB 492, which explicitly denies in-state tuition to undocumented students who attend its public colleges and universities.
  • In 2011, the Georgia state legislature passed HB 87, which further expands and regulates the use of E-Verify among state-based employers. In addition, the law authorizes law enforcement, upon probable cause, to request a valid form of identification and verify that the individual is lawfully present in the United States. Also, the law criminalizes the following acts:
    • Using a fraudulent form of identification;
    • Concealing harboring an individual with a fraudulent form of identification;
    • Transporting or moving an individual with a fraudulent form of identification;
    • Knowingly inducing, enticing, or assisting an undocumented immigrant to enter in the state of Georgia.
  • In 2010, the University of Georgia Board of Regents adopted a new admissions policy wherein it prohibits its most selective institutions, namely public universities that admit fewer than apply, from admitting undocumented students who would otherwise merit admission.
  • In 2012, the Georgia State Senate considered but did not pass SB 458 which would have outlawed foreign passports as an acceptable form of identification and prohibit all public colleges and universities in the state from admitting undocumented students.
  • In 2012, the Georgia House of Representatives considered but did not pass HB 59 which would further clarify that an individual who applies for postsecondary benefits must execute a signed and sworn affidavit verifying that they are lawfully present in the United States.
  • In 2016, Augusta University and Georgia State University were removed from the list of institutions that are barred from enrolling undocumented students under 2010 University of Georgia Board of Regents policy. The schools have admitted all academically qualified applicants in the last two years, and no longer fall under the policy. The University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Georgia College and State University are still prohibited from enrolling undocumented students.
  • The law calls upon law enforcement to work more closely with federal immigration officials, through programs such as Secure Communities and Section 287 (g) of the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act, to detain individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States or who are otherwise in breach of the crimes outlined in this law.
  • Under the new admission policy outlined in the Georgia Board of Regents Policy Manual, provision 4.3.4. allows students that demonstrate "lawful presence" to qualify for in-state tuition so long as they meet all other criteria. Many public institutions outside of Georgia have extended in-state tuition eligibility to DACA recipients on the basis of their "lawful presence" as recognized by the Department of Homeland Security. However, the University of Georgia Board of Regents elected to deny these students in-state tuition.
  • In 2013, the Georgia state legislature passed SB 160 which further clarifies how immigration law will be enforced in the state of Georgia. In particular, provisions in the law require individuals, in more instances than before, to successfully demonstrate that they are lawfully present in the U.S. when applying for government services. In addition, the law further limits the use of foreign passports as acceptable identification in Georgia.
  • In 2015, SR 938 was introduced to create a Senate Study Committee to find the advantages and disadvantages of DACA.

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.