St. Louis Community College cuts tuition rates for undocumented students

Beginning in January 2014, undocumented students with a Missouri high school diploma will pay lower tuition rates at St. Louis Community College. For many students, their tuition will be cut in half.

The school is believed to be the first Missouri school to offer the tuition break.

A story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Joanie Friend, the school’s director of enrollment management as saying “we were hoping that fedreally they would make some sort of movement,” referring to the failed effort for comprehensive immigration reform. The piece also quotes Virginia Braxs, president of the Hispanic Arts Council as saying:

It’s a huge need. It’s important to give every single kid a chance at education and getting out of that cycle of poverty … I think it’s amazing, amazing news. There is a real chance to be part of the American dream.

Undocumented studnts will no longer be considred “international” students, who pay the highest rate of $209 per credit hour. Instead, their tuition rates will be based upon where they live – $98 per credit hour if they live in the district, $144 if they live outside. This is important because may of these students come from lower economic backgrounds and do not qualify for many types of financial aid.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis charges $315 for state residents and $815 per credit hour for non-residents, including undocumented students. UMSL is reportedly also working on in-state tuition for undocumented students with a Missouri diploma.

Schools have seen an influx of applications from undocumented students who have been able to come out of the shadows thanks to President Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals.