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Colyer, Kobach Call For Ending In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students

Some Republican gubernatorial candidates are calling for the end of in-state tuition for undocumented students at public universities in Kansas.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants undocumented students to pay the more expensive non-resident tuition rate. Gov. Jeff Colyer expressed a similar view during a Republican forum Tuesday night hosted by KWCH and KMUW.

"I would happily sign that bill if it ever came to us,” Colyer said.

According to the Kansas Division of the Budget, that would raise about $2.3 million in tuition revenue.

But that figure comes with an asterisk — it assumes all undocumented students would stay at Kansas universities. Board of Regents President Blake Flanders says those students could be driven away.

"Some would say ... they just won't go as opposed to paying the higher rate,” Flanders said.

The non-resident rate is more than twice the in-state rate.

“It’s hard to image that any of these students would be able to afford the out-of-state rate because they’re not eligible for any financial assistance at all,” said Matt Casey, the director of government relations at the Board of Regents.

According to the Board of Regents, 670 undocumented students received in-state tuition in Kansas last fall. A 2004 Kansas law allowed "persons without lawful immigration status" to receive the reduced rate, as long as they attended a Kansas high school for at least three years and graduated from one.

As state funding for higher education has dwindled over the years, Kansas universities have relied on increased enrollment as a way of covering costs. For those universities, every additional student helps their budget, regardless of whether they are paying the in-state or non-resident rate.

“If you got room for another two students in the class and they’re paying an in-state rate, that’s better than them not attending,” Casey said.

The non-resident rate for tuition and fees for a semester as an undergraduate in Kansas can be as much as three time more expensive as the in-state rate.
Credit Stephan Bisaha/Source: Kansas Board of Regents / KMUW
The non-resident rate for tuition and fees for a semester as an undergraduate in Kansas can be as much as three time more expensive as the in-state rate.

Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

Copyright 2020 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit .

Stephan Bisaha is a former NPR Kroc Fellow. Along with producing Weekend Edition, Stephan has reported on national stories for Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as other NPR programs. He provided data analysis for an investigation into the Department of Veteran Affairs and reported on topics ranging from Emojis to mattresses.
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