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New York Policy

Updated As Of: April 11, 2017

The state of New York has provided in-state tuition to eligible undocumented students since 2002.  
  • 9612-A | Eligibility Requirements 
    • Attend at least two years of high school in New York
    • Graduate from a New York high school or receive GED 
    • Apply for attendance at an institution within 5 years of receiving a diploma
    • Show proof of residence 
    • File affidavit declaring that you will file for legal status when able 
  • Executive Order 124, signed in 1989 by New York City Mayor Edward Koch, gave undocumented immigrants access to city services, extending to higher education. However, it was overturned in 2001.
  • In 2002, the state of New York passed 9612-A (SB 7784), which provides qualified undocumented students with in-state tuition.
  • In 2015, S03702 was introduced by Sens. Espaillat. The bill would have provided state financial aid or scholarships for undocumented students who met the criteria. The bill was referred to Higher Education on January 1, 2016.
  • The legislature attempted to pass S 4179 in 2011 giving undocumented students access to state aid, but the bill failed to pass.
  • A 02463introduced in January 2013, would restrict access to public institutions to students with lawful presence.
  • After many attempts in the past decade, SB 2378 was the most recent attempt to pass a New York State DREAM Act providing undocumented students access to financial aid. On March 17, 2014, the bill failed to pass by two votes.
  • SB 01350 was introduced in January 2017. If passed, undocumented students who attended NY high school at least two years, earned a diploma (or equivalent to), or enrolled in university in 2017-2018 academic year will be eligible for financial aid, grants, and scholarships.
  • National Council of La Raza v. Ashcroft: US Department of Justice began entering civil immigration information regarding hundreds of thousands of non-citizens into the FBI’s principle criminal database and disseminating that information to state and local police.  In 2003, several organizations filed a complaint that this policy induced state and local police to make federal immigration arrests that Congress has forbidden; however in 2007 the District Court ruled in favor of the defendant.
  • In 2011, the State of New York quit the Secure Communities program.
  • Centro de la Comunidad Hispana v. Town of Oyster Bay was introduced in May 2010.  The plaintiffs argue that the ordinance which prohibits standing on the sidewalk to solicit employment and bars motorists from stopping to solicit employment or hire workers is in violation of the first and fourteenth amendment, inhibiting undocumented day workers' ability to gain employment.
  • SB 2230 passed in 2013.  It created a gun licensing restriction to include the  consideration of citizenship and immigration 
  • SB 2106 would allow qualified undocumented immigrants with high school diplomas access to drivers’ licenses and non-driver identification cards.
  • SB 1215A andAB 4311A would create a DREAM commission to help support private scholarships, training for high school counselors; students who meet certain criteria may have tuition reduced and become eligible for scholarships regardless of status
  • S776 would grant state citizenship and identification cards to individuals who can prove residency in New York for at least 3 years, paid taxes and meet other conditions; they are eligible for professional licences, local/state elections, healthcare, student financial aid/loans/awards, public benefits, and drivers' liscences without consideration of status
  • S1928A and A5900A would create an appeals process for students, without consideration of immigration status, who've been denied in-state tuition rates
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced free-tuition legislation and passed in April 2017; however, this legislation exludes undocumented students.


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.