Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuition, Veterans, and Illegal Immigrants

Due to some widely disseminated misinterpretation of accurate reporting, we have had several questions about tuition breaks offered in Massachusetts. People have been led to believe that Massachusetts is offering some kind of tuition break to illegal immigrants that is not being offered to other residents. That is not true. Much of this is due to misunderstanding of a quote from Lt. Governor Kerry Healey that was reported in the Boston Herald. According to the Herald, she said, “The Legislature has made the appalling decision to vote on things like tuition breaks for illegal immigrants, but they couldn’t take the time to take a vote to help our Massachusetts war heroes . . . I find it deeply disturbing.” This quote has been incorrectly interpreted to mean that the legislature voted FOR tuition breaks for illegal immigrants, which is not what she said, and is not correct.

In 2005, the legislature passed the Welcome Home Bill, St.2005, c.130, which gives tuition and fee waivers to those who served in the National Guard. In 2006, the legislature voted AGAINST a bill (H1230) which would have allowed illegal immigrants to attend state colleges at in-state tuition.

Thus far, the legislature has failed to pass funding for the Welcome Home Bill, which means that colleges and universities would either have to deny the waivers or absorb their cost, at least temporarily. It was this inaction that prompted the quote from the Lt. Governor.

So while the legislature has clearly denied in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, it appears poised to fund a law it had already approved to give tuition and fee waivers to veterans.