Senate begins debate on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

Senate begins debate on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

Students in favor of in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants have lobbied legislators for weeks.

By Len Lazarick

Students in favor of in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants lobbied legislators Friday.

The Senate will have a full-scale debate on a bill authorizing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrant children who graduated from Maryland high schools after a committee approved it 7-4 on Wednesday.

In a major change to the legislation, the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee specified that any immigrant who qualifies must attend community college first, and get an associate’s degree or earn 60 credits before going on to a four-year state university.

To qualify, students must attend a Maryland high school for at least two years, provide proof that their parents or guardians have paid taxes, and apply to be legal permanent residents.

“We chose to ratchet back the bill,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, the floor leader. “We listened to some of the concerns … to tighten up the bill.”

Senate President Mike Miller had predicted in January that the measure would end up applying only to community colleges, along with the other restrictions.

On Friday, Miller suggested that the debate on the controversial method be put off till Tuesday. A series of questions from Senate Minority Whip E.J. Pipkin, as well as two Democrats, indicated that bill faces serious challenges and intense debate.

“What this bill creates is a new financial burden for community colleges, doesn’t it?” Pipkin asked, wondering what the cost to community colleges would be.

The bill’s fiscal note estimates that it would cost the local colleges $778,000.

With such a price tag, Sen. Jim Brochin, a Towson Democrat, wondered why the bill hadn’t been referred to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee for review.

Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, D-Baltimore City, said the amendments to the bill makes “it sound like this is overly onerous.”

Pinsky noted that 10 states already provide in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, including California, Texas and New York.

Several Montgomery County residents are suing Montgomery College for already offering county tuition rates for anyone who has graduated from a county high school, regardless of immigration status.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Concerned Marylander

    Might we not question how many children of LEGAL immigrants, naturalized citizens, and natural born citizens will get pushed out of the opportunity for higher education by these illegal immigrants? I would also ask why my tax dollars are funding their high school or elementary school education? What connection do their parents have that keep them from getting deported as they should under Federal Law? These children and their parents are breaking the law. Why should we look to benefit their future at the expense of our own children and those of legal immigrants? Enforce the Federal Law. If you don’t like it, get it changed. Providing benefits like this for illegal immigrants and aliens only encourages more to come to Maryland. Why don’t they and their parents work to make things better in their own country?

  2. BoBo

    After reading the law I see no harm in these folks receiving in State tuition charges. It is like any other Marylander EXCEPT that they “must apply for citizenship within 30 days” and who is going to enforce this aspect of the law. My concern is that if this is not enforced it sends a strong message that Maryland’s lawmakers are not Maryland law enforcers.

    Is this revenue neutral?

    These students must have graduated from Maryland HS/GED classes to qualify only – we have already paid for their educations to a large degree and we should be able hopefully reap (taxes) from them in the future as they become taxpaying Maryland workers.

  3. JayKAY

    I used to be a fervently against illegal immigrants. However, how can anyone be against a person trying to better their lives, especially the young folk. As a current collegiate guy myself I fully support these three young adults and those of their ilk-children of illegal immigrants. Good luck in college, and it’s easier than H.S., but much more demanding.

    • Abigail Adams

      So you support these three? How generous of you. While the taxpayers of MD are being threatened with massive regressive tax hikes to fill the hole left by politicians only worried about the next election, you want to grant more benefits to illegals? You may have a different opinion in a few years once you graduate & land in the real world: in debt and competing for a job. These kids have had the benefit of education provided by the taxpayers of MD no matter how little their parents salaries. In most cases, a benefit not available to them in their homeland.

      • Richard Baldwin Cook

        Hi Abigail,

        No one benefits by telling high school grads, you can go no further.

        Why create a permanent class of people who have stayed in school, graduated, but who cannot advance in their educations?

        The university and college systems of this state and nation are the envy of much of the world, partly because of the open door to higher education for those of limited means. We ought not slam the door of education on anyone.

        • Conservative Tim


          The argument against this bill has nothing to do with preventing them from going to college, it is about preventing them from getting the same benefits as legal taxpaying Maryland citizens – reduced tuition. Nothing prevents them from going to state college(that I know of) if they pay the out-of-state rate.

          We opponents are simply saying do not use our tax dollars to educate illegal immigrants. We do not care if they pay for the education themselves.

          It’s not “slamming the door”, it is saying pay your fair share.

          • Libertarianism101

            With all due respect Mr. Conservative no one pays their fair share, or at least very few. Everyone is subsidized when it concerns college education, and government is the PRIMARY reason for why my entire generation will be in massive student loan debt. So, your argument isn’t that they should pay their fair share, but that those kids aren’t American citizens.

            However, I will absolutely agree that the government shouldn’t give us Pell Grants, or any type of lending cause that only raise the cost of attendance.

            p.s. you’ve inspired me to change my username so thanks for that

      • BoBo

        A bigail – In-state tuition does not mean no tuition please read the proposed law before everybody gets all bent out of shape – don’t take someone’s opinion and consider it fact. Took a total of 2 minutes and I’m a slow reader cause I was educated in another land.

      • JayKAY

        O’Malley is giving 277 Million to Dept of Juvenile services which is wrought with waste, fraud, and corruption. You mean to tell me that kids who are trying to make something of themselves shouldn’t be helped?

        Ms. Adams if you look all throughout history the countries with the greatest economic turnarounds and expansions had loose regulations, significantly low taxes, strong property rights, and a LOOSE but effective immigration policy. Immigration is important because we get the best and brightest minds from other countries.

        I’m not a supporter of illegal immigration, but it would be foolish to force the most driven individuals out of the country; they’re the ones who become entrepreneurs, innovate, add value, and create wealth.

        I do not support subsidies at all, nor subsided education-FAFSA (which I also get) because it increases cost of attendance. However, there is a lot of waste in our gov’t so might as well give it to someone who’s trying to better their lives and could possibly better many others oppose to giving it to gov’t bureaucrats.

        p.s. Thx for the response; I respect your opinion and it was fun reading your response

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