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Massachusetts Policy

Updated As Of: April 6, 2017

Massachusetts has not passed legislation extending in-state tuition eligibility to all undocumented students. However, there are some avenues to in-state tuition:
  • DACA beneficiaries are eligible for in-state tuition at all public colleges and universities.
  • Other colleges and universities maintain informal tuition policies that allow undocumented students to access in-state tuition.
  • SB 237 in 2003 and HB 3924 in 2004 failed to pass, but would have made undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition.
  • In 2010, SB 603 was introduced to allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition but failed to pass.
  • In 2012, Governor Deval Patrick declared that DACA beneficiaries would be eligible for in-state tuition if they fulfilled all other residency requirements.
  • HB 1078/SB 577  would provide in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain criteria.  A joint study of the bills was authorized in June 2014. 
  • In 2015, HB 1053 was introduced by Marc Lombardo. This bill would deny in-state tuition rates and fees to students who are neither US citizens nor lawful permanent residents.
  • In June 2011, Governor Deval Patrick announced that Massachusetts would not take part in the national Secure Communities Program.
  • SB 2061 failed to pass in 2011, if it had passed, it would have implemented the Secure Communities Program.
  • Introduced in 2011 and 2012, HB 2167 and HB 2312 would have required employers to use E-Verify to verify employee’s legal status, but both failed in committee.
  • In 2012, the state Supreme Court ruled that excluding non-citizens from the state health insurance program is unconstitutional in Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority.
  • HB 3285 was passed in 2013 and makes undocumented immigrants eligible for state driver’s licenses
  • HB 1613/SB 1135 also known as the TRUST Act was introduced in 2013 to provide immediate relief from deportations, strengthen public safety, and set an example that propels the national conversation on immigration reform toward inclusion.
  • HB H1734 was introduced in 2015. If passed, it would have increased penalties for employers who employ undocumented immigrants.
  • HB 3429 was introduced in January 2017. This bill, if passed, will grant undocumented people a driver privilegde card which can not be used for identification purposes.


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.