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April 02. 2012 11:22PM

Senate to consider requiring tuition test for illegal aliens

CONCORD — The Senate will consider a bill Tuesday that would require the University System of New Hampshire to determine whether students paying in-state tuition are legal U.S. residents.

House Bill 1383, passed by the House in February, would require the university system to “establish a procedure for determining that all students receiving the in-state rate of tuition are legal residents of the United States.”

The bill has the backing of House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon.

“It's wrong to be forcing the taxpayers of New Hampshire to subsidize a post-secondary education for those who are breaking the law or are otherwise in our state because of criminal conduct,” he said when the bill came before the House.

The bill does not specify the consequences for students found to be in the country illegally.

There are approximately 20,000 students in the university system.

In their calculations of the fiscal impact of the legislation, university officials say they would rely on federal vetting for the 85 percent of in-state students who qualify for federal financial aid.

The university system would have to verify the status of the remaining 3,000 students, which would result in administrative costs of at least $17,000 in the policy's first year, if enacted, and ongoing yearly costs of around $5,000, officials estimate.

The issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants has been controversial in several states, including in Massachusetts, where lawmakers are considering legislation to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.

Several state have barred illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition, including Arizona, Colorado and, most recently, Indiana.

Supporters and opponents of the measure are set to testify at the hearing Tuesday before the Senate Education Committee.


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