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Posted on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

WCC approves in-state and in-district tuition for some unauthorized immigrants

By Kellie Woodhouse


Washtenaw Community College's commencement ceremony for the class of 2013 held at the Convocation Center Saturday, May 18.

Courtney Sacco I

The Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved changes to the school's residency guidelines that make it cheaper for certain unauthorized immigrants and veterans to attend the school.

The change allow individuals living in Washtenaw County or Michigan and who qualify for the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive in-district or in-state tuition rates, as opposed to out-of-country rates such students currently pay.

It also allows active military, veterans and their dependents to receive in-district rates as soon as they move to Washtenaw County or in-state rates as soon as they move to Michigan. Previously, military and their families had to wait six months after moving before receiving the reduced rate.

Six of the seven trustees were present during a Tuesday evening trustees' meeting, and all approved the change. Trustee Diana McKnight-Morton was absent. About five people spoke publicly in support of the change.

"It was probably one of the most emotional sets of public presentations that we've had. This is clearly an issue that affects people. It affects their lives in a very direct way. For some of these students, it's going to mean they don't have to work two or three jobs to put themselves through college," said Patrick McLean, vice chair of the board. "It's an issue of fundamental fairness."

Three months ago McLean was approached by Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and asked to consider lobbying administrators and fellow board members for reduced tuition for unauthorized immigrants. McLean, a board member of Community Refugee Immigration Services in Columbus, Ohio, agreed to help the group and asked administrators to look into a change. Administrators brought the board a proposal in June. A month later, trustees approved the change.

Unauthorized immigrants who reside in Washtenaw County paid the highest per-credit tuition rate prior to the change —the out-of-state rate of $194 a credit— and now they can pay $96 per credit if they have DACA status.

Unauthorized youth must meet several requirements to be granted DACA status, including:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the U.S. before reaching 16th birthday
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making a request for DACA status
  • Entered the U.S. without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Currently in school, has graduated, obtained a certificate of completion from high school, a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran.
  • Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors

DACA status defers deportation for qualifying individuals for up to four years and provides them with a social security number, but does not provide them lawful status in the U.S. Individuals with DACA status can apply for permanent residency.

Tuesday's vote at WCC comes on the heels of University of Michigan's Board of Regents approving in-state tuition rates for all unauthorized immigrants who attended Michigan middle and high school. Regents voted 6-2 to approve that measure on Thursday. They also approved in-state tuition rates for all military and veterans.

The U-M residency change is more broad than the proposed WCC change, which applies to only those unauthorized immigrants who have been granted DACA status.

McLean says he wants WCC to explore broader policies that would allow more unauthorized immigrants in-district tuition rates.

"I am pleased with what we've done. I think it will be worth exploring whether or not something more expansive, like what U-M has done, would be appropriate for WCC," he said. "This is a very good first step."

Linda Blakey, WCC vice president for student and academic services, says the school already enrolls a small amount of unauthorized immigrants, although she said she didn't know the exact number.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Calling illegal aliens unauthorized immigrants is showing support for those people who are breaking US laws. That is a central aspect about what is going on with the WCC decision to reward lawbreakers with in-state tuition.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

My daughter tried and tried to get in a WCC nursing program . She worked at U of M and resided in Livingston county and couldn't get in. These folk are in this country illegally and they get a break? This is a betrayal of our own citizens! Thank God the military provided my daughter nurses training as a military spouse.

Tex Treeder

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

"It's an issue of fundamental fairness," said Patrick McLean, vice-chair. Mr McLean, you are exactly right. And it is not "fair" that illegal immigrants are rewarded for being criminals. So six of seven board members have indicated that they need to be replaced. I wonder how the missing board member would have voted.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

Wow....I guess all of the critics are not taking into consideration the several factors that could possibly have brough these people here. Eventually, they will become assets and contribute as educated members of society. It's hard to understand living in Disneyland where your opinions are important enough to tell your 300 closest friends throughout the day....but, if you want to go to college and your pockets are empty you have to work for it. So many people here illegally didn't get here sipping free coke on Delta. Bravo WCC.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

I agree in part. If you want to got to college and your pockets are empty you have to work for it . But if you are not a legal citizen then you pay for it for it at the higher rate or become a legal citizen. I went to EMU I had to work 3 jobs to pay for my college. That's why it took me 9 years. Living at home I got no financial aid even though my parents weren't able to afford my tuition and I am a legal citizen. Now we're giving out our tax dollars to people who are here illegally.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Yeah respecting the laws in the Unitied States is not important to liberal democrats. Feel free to break them if you support a leftist agenda.

Tex Treeder

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

I'm not sure that I understand the references to Disneyland and 300 closest friends. But I understand completely that the WCC board is rewarding criminals for successfully breaking the law.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Pretty soon American parents who want to send their children to college will have to start making unauthorized bank withdrawals to pay for it.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Thirty year old youth... If you let the people vote directly on this issue it would be forbidden. Instead we always have overly generous representation that is afraid to say "no" out of fear of being called a meanie, a bigot, someone who who doesn't understand "dreams". The only solution is for the state legislature to ban it outright and make them check legal status. Anyway, this is just another greenlight for more illegal immigration. A billion parents around the world would sacrifice themselves to make their children Americans. So what are we really doing but encouraging more illegal immigration? It's certainly not any kind of solution to the problem.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

"some of our students won't have to work two or three jobs now..." Yup, just the students who have legally been here to begin with. As a WCC alum, this decision will strongly influence any future support (or lack thereof).


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Same with me, as a WCC alum, this decision will strongly influence any future support (or lack thereof) from me.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

They don't value Americans anymore than a foreigner who breaks the law. It makes no difference to them who is working the 2 or 3 jobs and who gets the education to have a good one. Delusional thinking.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

why aren't they called illegal immigrants? They are in the country illegally, correct?


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

Let me try this again. Speaking only on the merits of this story and not the illegal vs unauthorized subject, let me give you this analogy. Let's say I steal a car and get away with it. Later I give it to my child as their car. Let's say she gets pulled over by the police and they realize the car is stolen. The police aren't going to look the other way and say since my parents gave me an "unauthorized" , because we can't say illegally obtained car, they are not going to reward her with keeping the car. After all we can't hold my child responsible for me giving her an illegally obtained car excuse won't fly with the police. The illegal immigrant isn't being denied an education that are just paying the higher international or out district rates because they are not legally a resident that qualifies for in district rates. Pure and simple.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Kyle calling illegal immigrants unauthorized immigrants is neither accurate or neutral. It is just hiding and excusing the essential thing that is going on in this situation--certain foreign citizens have intentionally broken US laws and now demand other expensive benefits for themselves. Is it a pure coincidence that terms like 'undocumented' immigrant and 'unauthorized' immigrant are used and origiinated from groups supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Let us have a little honesty and accuracy on this matter.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Roger - We have no collective agenda. As Kellie mentioned, MLive Media Group uses the term unauthorized immigrant because we believe it is the most accurate and neutral of the available options. If you have specific feedback regarding the use please email us. Thanks.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Yes Kellie, AnnArborCom made this change in language because of their collective agenda is to support amnesty for illegal aliens. How about a little honesty from you folks at the paper?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

John, just curious why the PC game is being played. I certainly hope that is OK with you.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

As a reminder, the use of the unauthorized immigrants term in this article is consistent with the change made by earlier this year. Please feel free to email us any feedback you may have regarding its use for for our consideration so we can keep the discussion here in the comments focused on reader input regarding this specific story. Thanks.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Why does it bother you so much on how it is phrased?

Usual Suspect

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

Because MLive and are playing politically correct word games.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Mark Freeman is up for re-election in November 2014. Patrick McLean is up for re-election in November 2014. Anne Williams is up for re-election in November 2014. Steven Gill is up for re-election in November 2016. Pam Horiszny is up for re-election in November 2016. Richard Landau is up for re-election in November 2018. Diana McKnight Morton is up for re-election in November 2018. Of course, they can recalled at anytime.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Thanks! I made a copy so I can take it when I vote in 2014

Usual Suspect

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

The stupidity is spreading from the U of M to other institutions.