The University of Hawaii system is close to allowing undocumented students to attend at in-state tuition rates, according to published reports.
Lui Hokoana, the university’s associate vice president for student affairs, expressed confidence that the Board of Regents would approve as soon as Thursday a proposed policy to treat the students as state residents, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
Undocumented students currently are charged a non-resident tuition of $11,000 each semester. Legal state residents, however, pay less than half that — $4,000, the Civil Beat said.
To qualify for the state resident status, students must show that they have lived in the state for the previous year, graduated from a U.S. high school and provide an affidavit pledging to apply for a green card, the Civil Beat said.
The DREAM Act, a proposed federal measure that would let undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors pursue legalization, inspired the university proposal.
“We want to make sure they’re true DREAMers,” Hokoana was quoted as saying. “It’s the right thing to do, because these students are contributing citizens of Hawaii. They’ve been here so long, we should consider them our own. They’re part of our family.”
Not everyone, however, sees them as family.
Hawaii state Sen. Sam Slom accused the university of bypassing the state Legislature, which has rejected similar previous attempts to treat undocumented students as state residents.
“The idea was brought to the Legislature and it did not pass,” Slom, a Republican, is quoted as saying. “What the university is doing, on its own, is basically an end run.”
Slom added: “Just living here doesn’t confer citizenship or residency. I’m willing to look at situations on an individual basis, instead of granting someone residency status just to follow President Obama.”
Hokana, the Civil Beat said, believes about seven students currently enrolled would see their tuition decrease if the policy wins approval. But the number of students who could benefit could rise to 300 if people who cannot attend the school under the present circumstances then decide to enroll, the news site said.