Immigrants attending the City University of New York schools are getting back thousands of tuition dollars that were wrongfully charged to about 150 students that live in the U.S. illegally, reports AP.
Late last year a student group, CUNY Dreamers, told school officials that students of illegal immigration status living in New York have been paying the higher out-of-state tuition instead of the lower in-state rates, which is a difference of about $4,000.
Since 2002 a law passed in New York that immigrants – who attended for two years or more a New York state high school or received a GED in the state – may be eligible for in-state college tuition, even if they have an illegal status. Along with New York, 19 other states offer in-state tuition for immigrants who live in the U.S. illegally.
20-year-old Ecuadorean, Freddy Vicuna, who lives in the U.S. illegally, said CUNY has refunded him about $4,500 last year and $3,000 around two weeks ago.
“I was going to quit school,” said Vicuna, a computer engineering student at City College of New York to Associate Press reporter Claudia Torrens. “It was too expensive,” he said.
But experts and students say that the problem is not CUNY’s administration error, instead it’s immigrant’s ignorance and fear of the system. Some immigrants are unaware that they qualify for in-state rates and others hesitate to reveal their illegal status for fear of deportation, even though under federal law such information is private.
“With anything that involves the intersection between immigration status and eligibility for services, there is always a lot of confusion,” Tanya Broder, a senior attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said to Torrens.