Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to a California law granting college tuition discounts to high school graduates in the state, regardless of immigration status–a law that saves illegal immigrants, among others, nearly $23,000 a year at UC campuses.
At the University of California, in-state fees total $11,300 a year, while non-Californians pay $34,000. The savings are $11,160 a year at California State University and $4,400 a year at the community colleges.
A group of 42 out-of-state residents paying the higher fees at California colleges said in a 2005 lawsuit that the statute violated a 1998 federal immigration law. That law prohibits states from providing any benefits to illegal immigrants based on their in-state residence, unless the state makes the same benefits available to U.S. citizens elsewhere.
But the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law in November, ruling that the lower fees were based on immigrant students’ high school graduation, and not merely on their residence in California.
It was the first ruling in the nation to address such a law. Eleven other states have similar statutes.