BTC BRIEF: Tuition Equity - Expanding College Opportunity and Paving the Way for North Carolina's Economic Future

By Alexandra Forter Sirota and Tazra Mitchell
Budget & Tax Center
June 2014

All graduates of North Carolina’s high schools should have the opportunity to continue their education, either at a four-year or two-year institution, so they can gain the credentials or degree that will boost their careers and help modernize the state’s economy. But for students who are undocumented immigrants, often brought to the U.S. at a very young age, the fi nancial barriers are often too steep to scale. North Carolina requires them to pay expensive out-of-state tuition, which can be an insurmountable cost for low- and moderate-income families.

Twenty states have implemented a promising policy that allows graduates of instate high schools who are undocumented to pay more affordable in-state tuition at public universities or community colleges. Such “tuition equity” has boosted college enrollment, furthered the education of young immigrants and improved their earnings – all of which can only help boost a state’s economy in the long run.

Given the demographic and economic changes driving North Carolina’s need for an educated, highly skilled workforce, supporting all students in their pursuit of post-secondary education is crucial to the state’s future. Tuition equity is a cost-effective way to make sure North Carolina isn’t left behind.

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