Indiana In-State Tuition Bill Fails to Advance
FAIR Take | February 2022
The Indiana Senate Educational and Career Development Committee held a hearing in January on a bill that would have granted in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens attending public colleges and universities. However, the bill will not move this session since it failed to pass the Indiana Senate (the bill’s chamber of origin) before the crossover deadline on February 1. This means that in-state tuition could not be considered until the next special legislative session or the next regular legislative session in 2023.
Previously, Indiana passed a law in 2011 specifically banning any public institution of higher learning from giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Bills to repeal or narrow this ban have been repeatedly introduced since at least 2013. Occasionally these in-state tuition bills have been voted out of committee, but they have never received a floor vote in either chamber of the legislature.
This year, the pro-illegal alien lobby may have been more hopeful. Unlike past years, Senate Bill (SB) 138 was introduced by Republican Senators Blake Doriot (R-New Paris) and Mark Messmer (R-Jasper). This was crucial if the bill had any chance of passage in a GOP-controlled legislature.
SB 138 would have granted in-state tuition rates to any individual regardless of immigration status who:
- Attended high school in Indiana for at least four years;
- Graduated from high school in Indiana or received a GED in Indiana;
- Filed an affidavit saying he or she will seek to legalize their immigration status as soon as possible; and
- Had not requested any other public benefit from the agency or political subdivision that would grant them the in-state tuition rate.
This legislation was similar to the laws in eighteen states that already grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Unlike a few states, it did not grant illegal aliens taxpayer-funded financial aid as well.
According to collegetuitioncompare.com, combined In-state tuition and student fees in Indiana for the 2021 school year averaged $8505 while the out-of-state rate average was $21,424, a difference of more than two and a half times. In 2017, FAIR estimated that Indiana state taxpayers already spent over $549 million a year on illegal aliens. This bill would have pushed those numbers higher.
SB 138 was heard by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee on January 19. However, this hearing was scheduled “for testimony only” and the committee did not take a vote on the bill at the time.
The bill was then placed on the committee’s agenda for a possible vote on January 26. However, before the Committee considered it, the bill was pulled off the agenda.
The bill is now effectively dead since the Senate did not vote on it before the February 1 crossover deadline. While a supermajority could vote to waive the crossover rule, it is unlikely. The bill will now sit in committee without further action until the legislature adjourns, currently scheduled for March 14, at which point it will officially die.