Illegal alien tuition challenge rejected

June 6, 2011 at 3:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected a challenge to California's reduced in-state college tuition for illegal aliens graduating from state high schools.

The rejection came without comment in a one-line order and sets no precedent. It allows similar programs to exist in 11 other states.

The challenge came from lawyers for a conservative immigration-law organization who argued "preferential treatment" for illegal immigrants violated federal immigration law, pointing to a provision in a 1986 federal law that barred states from giving "any post-secondary benefit" to an illegal alien, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The California Supreme Court ruled last year that the state's policy did not conflict with federal law because the tuition benefit was dependent on a student's high school graduation, not legal residency.

In a 2001 law, the state said it would charge in-state tuition -- as opposed to higher out-of-state tuition -- to a student who attended a California high school for three years and graduated.

The Times said under this interpretation a student from Oregon who graduates from a California high school in California could obtain in-state tuition in the University of California system.

California says about 41,000 students took advantage of the special tuition rule last year, but the vast majority were students at a community college, the Times said. In 2009, the 10-campus University of California system said 2,019 students paid in-state tuition under the terms of the state law, and of those about 600 were believed to be illegal immigrants.

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