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North Carolina Policy

Updated As Of: April 7, 2017

In-State Tuition Policies

North Carolina does not provide undocumented or DACA students with in-state tuition. 

Legislative History

  • In May 2016, HB 1081 was introduced. If passed, it would grant eligibility for in-state tuition to undocumented students who have received a high school diploma or GED within North Carolina, attended North Carolina schools for three consecutive years prior to graduation, and have at least a 2.7 cumulative grade point average. 
  • In April 2015, HB 689 was introduced by Representatives Luebke, Fisher, Harrison, and Meyer and has since been referred to the Committee on Education. If passed, the bill would grant eligibility for in-state tuition to undocumented students who have received a high school diploma or GED within North Carolina, attended North Carolina schools for two consecutive years prior to graduation, have filed an affidavit stating that they have filed or plan to file an application to legalize their immigration status, and have fulfilled the admission requirements at their insitution of enrollment.
  • In March 2015, SB 463 was introduced by Senator Hartsell and has since been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. If passed, the bill will grant eligibility for in-state tuition to undocumented students who attended school in North Carolina for three consecutive years prior to graduation and have received a high school diploma or GED within North Carolina.
  • In January 2014, the NC Attorney General’s office sent an advisory letter stating that under federal and state law undocumented and DACA students are not eligible for in-state tuition.
  • HB 904introduced in 2013, would have made qualified undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition but failed to pass.
  • In 2013 the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), per the Attorney General’s advisory letter, established that DACA recipients are considered “lawfully present” in the United States.  
  • In 2013 the UNC Council unanimously voted in support of a resolution pushing for in-state tuition for undocumented students. However, under state law the council does not have the authority to authorize the change in tuition rates.
  • HB 11, introduced by Representative George Cleveland in 2011, would have prohibited undocumented students from enrolling in public postsecondary institutions but stalled in committee.
  • In March 2010, policy 23 NCAC 02C .0301 was approved by North Carolina's State Board of Community Colleges. This policy allows undocumented students to attend community colleges in North Carolina so long as they have graduated from a United States high school; all undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition, even if the student resides in or graduates from a high school in North Carolina.
  • HB 1183, introduced in April 2005, would have allowed in-state tuition for undocumented students but failed to pass.
  • On November 12, 2004, the North Carolina System formally stated in Policy 700.1.4[G] of the UNC Policy Manual that undocumented students could attend one of their 17 institutions only if they had graduated from an U.S. high school and paid out-of-state tuition.
  • In 2015, HB 318 was passed, which prohibits cities from adopting sanctuary ordinances or directing law enforcement to not collect information about immigration status. 
  • Five counties of North Carolina (CabarrusGastonHendersonMecklenburgWake) joined the 287(g) ICE Security Partnership in 2013, authorizing local law enforcement to act as federal immigration enforcers.
  • In 2013, the House passed HR 627 in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
  • DACA recipients are eligible for temporary driver’s licenses. This policy was enacted following the Attorney General’s opinion to the DMV stating that DACA recipients are considered “lawful residents” during the period of deferral.  
  • Introduced in 2013, HB 786, also known as the Reasonable Enactment of Comprehensive Legislation Addressing Immigration Matters (RECLAIM), failed to pass. The bill would have allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for a status-identifying driver’s license, but would also allow police officers to conduct an immigration status check on anyone lawfully stopped.
  • HB 36, which passed in 2011, requires counties, cities, and private employers with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify to confirm work authorization of new employees. The law does not apply to seasonal temporary employees.
  • In 2010, North Carolina introduced but failed to pass SB 179, a replica of Arizona’s anti-immigration SB 1070.
  • SB 145 was introduced in February 2017. If passed, this bill will prohibit universities from becomining sanctuary campuses. 

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.