Big Potential

January 9, 2015

In-State Tuition for DACA-Approved Virginians Isn’t Leading to Classroom Crowding, and Has Big Potential for Economic Payoff

HigherEdEnrollment_forTuitionEquityBrief_20150107Virginia colleges and universities have seen only a small boost in enrollment under the state’s new policy of charging in-state tuition to some Virginians who are exempt from deportation under federal law, according to preliminary data. But opening the door to college for those Virginians could provide significant returns to the students and the state economy without being an undue burden on Virginia’s colleges or the state budget.

Just 81 immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status were enrolled in four-year public colleges in Virginia in the fall of 2014. In addition, the cost to colleges and the state of providing access to in-state tuition for DACA students are small compared to the potential economic benefits. The expected lifetime earnings of a Virginian with a bachelor’s degree is $2.7 million, almost twice that of a Virginian who has a degree but who has never attended college.

This report provides background on the Virginia Attorney General’s decision to allow certain Virginia residents to pay in-state tuition rates at Virginia colleges and universities, the impact that decision has had on enrollment, and compares the low costs with large future economic benefit.

Get the report (pdf)
Read the release (pdf)