KINGSTON – Although the Board of Governors for Higher Education's policy decision to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition to attend any of the three Rhode Island colleges will impact the lives of those students, little will change at the University of Rhode Island.
“Our policy isn't going to change in any way in which students are considered for admission. We'll continue to admit every qualified Rhode Islander. It won't displace any Rhode Island student. The number of undocumented students here will have a minimal impact,” Linda Acciardo, Director of Communications and Marketing at URI said.
Last Monday, Sept. 26, after holding a three and a half hour public hearing at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) in Warwick, the Board of Governors for Higher Education unanimously adopted a policy that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at CCRI, URI and Rhode Island College (RIC).
“The new Board is aware that this issue has been around for awhile and that state statue gave it full authority to set tuition and tuition policy,” Michael F. Trainor Special Assistant to the Commissioner Office of Higher Education said. “The Board of Governors feel undocumented students have been taught in Rhode Island elementary and secondary education and have been since 1981 and the policy of higher education should be aligned with the K-12.”
Trainor said the policy will allow the institutions of higher education to “treat undocumented students the same as citizens students and allow them to enjoy the same in-state tuition rates as citizen students do.”
The policy makes Rhode Island the first state to decide the question by policy rather than legislation. Rhode Island follows 12 other states that currently have laws permitting certain undocumented students who have attended and graduated from their public school systems to pay the in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education. The policy will take affect in September 2012.
Trainor stated that research by the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University suggested that the new policy's impact would be minimal. The Institute determined in 2009 that a total of 74 undocumented students were attending one of the three colleges. Trainor said the review indicated that offering in-state tuition to undocumented students would result in a total of 31 additional students.
Trainor said the Board has no sense that the finances of the three institutions will be damaged either.
“There will be a net gain of revenue for the colleges because these undocumented students aren't going for free. The colleges will experience new revenue from that aspect,” Trainor said.
Trainor said of the 41,000 students statewide, the number of undocumented students to pay in-state tuition is projected to be below 100.
At URI, Acciardo stated the University’s admission criteria have not been modified as a result of the Board of Governor's policy.
URI President David M. Dooley stated “URI has always been committed to accepting all academically qualified Rhode Island residents who have the potential to be academically successful at the University. This will not change with the new policy."
"Any student, whether a Rhode Islander or a non-resident, who would have been admitted to URI under the former policy of the Board of Governors, will be admitted to URI under the new policy,” Dooley said.
For more information, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times