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Maryland Policy

Updated As Of: April 4, 2017

Maryland provides eligible undocumented students with in-state tuition at public community colleges and universities. Under SB 167students must first attend a community college prior to qualifying for in-state tuition at a four-year institution. To qualify for in-state tuition at a community college, students must meet the following conditions:
  • Attended a Maryland secondary school for at least three years
  • Graduated from a Maryland high school or received a GED
  • Register at a Maryland community college within four years of high school graduation or receiving a GED
  • Provide documentation that the student or the student’s parent or legal guardian has filed a Maryland income tax return annually for the three years the individual attended a high school in the State 

To qualify for in-state tuition at a four-year college or university, a student must earn an associate’s degree or complete 60 credits at a Maryland community college before transferring. The student must also meet the following conditions:

  • Meet all other conditions for in-state tuition eligibility at community colleges
  • Sign affidavit stating that they will apply for permanent residency within 30 days of becoming eligible
  • Register at a public four-year institution within four years of finishing a community college degree (or 60 credits)
  • Provide documentation that the student or the student’s parent/legal guardian has filed a Maryland income tax return annually since the student entered community college.
  • HB 253 was proposed but vetoed by the Governor in 2003. The bill would have extended in-state tuition benefits to undocumented students and other immigrants who attended and graduated from Maryland high schools.
  • HB 612 was proposed in 2009 to extend in-state tuition benefits to qualifying undocumented students. The bill received a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee, but no further action was taken by the committee.
  • Three Maryland residents sued Montgomery College for granting in-state tuition to undocumented students before Congress passed the Maryland DREAM Act. The circuit court threw out the case in August 2011.
  • After multiple efforts to pass similar bills, SB 167 finally passed in 2011. The bill enables qualified undocumented students to receive in-state tuition in Maryland. Although passed in 2011, it was petitioned to referendum and was placed on the November 2012 ballot. The voters decided to uphold the law and undocumented students began receiving in-state tuition in 2013.
  • SB 1000/HB 1508 were introduced in February 2017. If passed, they would clarify that in addition to filing tax returns annually since entering community college, the student must additionally file tax returns for three years before the exemption for out-of-state tution at the college or university would apply.
  • In 2008, Frederick County became the only county in Maryland to participate in 287(g) ICE Security Partnership. 287(g) authorizes local law enforcement officials to act as federal immigration enforcers.
  • SB 715/HB 789 was signed into law on May 2, 2013, providing undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain second tier driver’s licenses.
  • HB 317, introduced in 2013, would have required certain contractors and employers to use E-Verify to verify new employees legal status but failed to pass.
  • HB 29, also known as the Maryland TRUST Act, was introduced in January 2014 and would have protected individuals from continual detainment based solely on an immigration detainer. It was withdrawn in March 2014.
  • HB 272, introduced in January 2017, would make public institutions of higher education sanctuary campuses, and would prohibit institutions from releasing information concerning the immigration status of students and employees of the institution.
  • HB 598, introduced in January 2017, would require local governments to comply with and support federal immigration law.
  • HB 1362, introduced in February 2017, would make officials immune from criminal and civil liability for refusing to provide information to the federal government or another state that will be used for the purpose of a registry to discriminate based on immigration status.
  • Casa de Maryland is a community organization that strives to improve the quality of life and fight for equal treatment of low-income immigrant communities.
  • Catholic Communities (Esperanza Center) provides legal services to low-income immigrants.
  • ACLU of Maryland is affiliated with the national organization and works to protect the civil rights of all people.
  • Maryland DREAM Youth Committee (MDYC) an immigrant youth led organization founded in July 2010 and committed to empowering undocumented youth to pursue their educational goals

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.