DACA students to pay more

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By: Amaris Encinas


Starting in the spring, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students will start to pay out-of-state tuition at Pima Community College, said R. Seth Shippee, deputy general counsel.


That translates into an over 368 percent increase for these students, or $304 per credit hour versus $82.50 per credit hour for in-state tuition. About 180 Pima students have DACA status, according to R. Seth Shippee, deputy general counsel at Pima.


The reason for this is because of Proposition 300, which was passed by Arizona voters in November 2006. The proposition states that students must have “lawful presence” in Arizona to be eligible for in-state tuition. As of April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that DACA students do not meet the  lawful presence condition.


Since 2012, DACA students have received in-state tuition at Pima and other Arizona colleges and universities. As of now, federal student aid generally operates under the guideline that only U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens can receive financial aid.


Typically, immigrant students are of one of three categories: refugee, asylee and “Green Card.” Those groups can complete the FAFSA application to determine their eligibility for benefit, according to Norma Navarro Castellano, Pima’s director of the office of financial aid and scholarships.


The amount of tuition that has to be paid and whether the student is considered to be in state or out of state is determined when the student first applies to school at PCC.


After the FAFSA application has been completed, the application travels through the proper government channels to reach the institution. The office of financial aid then confirms the information, which is known as the process of verification that determines eligibility of federal student aid.


The institution then calculates the total cost of attendance for the student, which includes total number of credit hours and general expenses such as books,supplies, travel, room and board, and whether the student is living independently or with a guardian.


Award letters are divided into sources of payment for tuition: federal student aid, scholarships and loan options. Some of the scholarships at PCC are made up of private donors and organizations. Therefore, are not subject to the same guidelines required for the federal student aid application and the process of applying for loans This creates a few more opportunities for DACA students to pay for their education.



President Barack Obama passed DACA June 5, 2012, as an executive order. Anyone eligible for DACA status were offered certain benefits such as Employment Authorization Documents.

In the state of Arizona, EADs could be used as proof of residency therefore granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. However, in 2013, the attorney general on behalf of the State of Arizona sued Maricopa Community College District because DACA violated Prop 300 and does not confer lawful presence.

In 2015, Arizona Superior Court ruled in favor of MCCD, and they appealed. In-state tuition was granted to all undocumented students while the appeal was going through the channels.

This year, the Arizona Supreme Court denied MCCD’s appeal, ending in-state tuition for undocumented students. Currently there are no more appeals available, and Prop 300 would have to be modified in order for anything to change.  

The Arizona Supreme Court sent the case back to the Arizona Trial Court. That way, it can make a decision consistent with the Arizona Supreme Court’s finding.

“A bad scenario that is possible but not necessarily probable is that one of the things that the trial court could say is that we were not supposed to be giving these students in-state tuition all along,” Shippee said.  “It is a prospective order, which means that we wouldn’t have to back charge our students from 2012 to 2018, but there is a possibility we might have to charge students for the difference between in-state and out-of-state for the period for this semester or for the summer semester.”


The meeting regarding DACA and increased tuition rates was held Aug. 29  at West Campus.

Other issues that were addressed, included:

  • Background and history of DACA
  • General overview of immigrant rights/legality  
  • Outside resources
  • Campus police


During the meeting, there was also a discussion about rights that apply to citizens and non-citizens. A distinction was made between unlawful entry and unlawful presence.

Unlawful entry is when a person is entering from anywhere other than a port of entry, and there is a falsification of documentation. Unlawful presence is not a crime all on its own, but it is when the person entered legally and has overstayed. This means that civil law applies, which can result in deportation but not an arrest.

People have the right to remain silent and to decline any questions surrounding immigration/citizenship status. There is also the fact that officers cannot arrest, search or detain a person if there is no probable cause.

Because of the First Amendment, there is also the right to record almost every interaction with law enforcement.

Other rights include the right to be represented by an attorney, the opportunity to contact personal consulate, have an interpreter, request asylum, and have the U.S. government provide “clear and convincing” evidence that an infraction was committed.


The Department of Homeland Security has a “Sensitive Locations” policy that is in effect to protect individuals from the reach of CBP and ICE unless there are extenuating circumstances.


“The chief was reminding me that we have students who see the green-and-white Border Patrol cars or trucks going around here I have heard out of the U of A as well and I have heard UA students say this as well and for their first symposium on their campus is that they see these trucks and it really upsets them and they ask us to keep these trucks these officers off of our campuses,” Shippee said. “Well, something we can tell them is they do not need to be afraid — at least while they are on our campuses — because there is a specific directive from the Department of Homeland Security that controls all of these that they do not have to go to schools unless they absolutely have to.”

PIma Community College Campus Police has an active role to keep their students safe regardless of immigration status.

“It is our mission to support the college by keeping the campuses safe and ensuring that the college can carry out its mission by providing an easily accessible education to our community and that is our sole purpose,”said Pima Chief of Police Christopher Albers. “The practice of campus police is to not ask about immigration status when they encounter students on campus.”

As far as having customs and border protection on campus, “we do work with Border Patrol and CBP in training,” Albers said. “They provide training and facilities, technologies that are not available to us. We are a small department, so we do not have a lot of resources; they have a tremendous amount of resources. We do partner with CBP and Border Patrol for training exercises and opportunities. We do try and maintain a good relationship with them.”

Despite the active relationship between campus police and border patrol, PCC will put its students first.


This includes the Pima counselling department. “My role primarily is to help students plan for their education,” said Sylvia Loustaunau, a counselor at Desert Vista Campus. ‘Based that on goals and depending on those goals you know involves budgets, and with this new layer of obstacle for our DACAmented students having to pay these increased rates means we’re planning trying to figure this stuff out.”


“My biggest fear is that perhaps someone with the best intentions tells a student that you can not attend Pima because it is out of your price range,” Loustaunau said. “We will find a way.”


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