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Montana Policy

Updated As Of: April 5, 2017

The state of Montana briefly denied undocumented students public university benefits through HB 638 (LR 121). However, the majority of LR 121 was struck down in court
  • There have been no proposals to provide in-state tuition for undocumented students.
  • HB 638 (LR 121was voted on and passed during the 2012 General Election. It requires proof of citizenship by Montanans in order to receive certain state services including public university benefits. Since its passage, the majority of the law has been struck down in Montana's First Judicial District Court.
  • HB 178 was enacted in April 2011. This law requires the DMV to use the SAVE program to verify lawful presence before providing someone with a driver's license or state ID.
  • HB 611 was introduced in March 2017. If passed, it would prohibit local governments from enacting or referring to the electorate a sanctuary policy. 

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.