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We’ve just checked a claim that a Republican state legislator gave in-state tuition to illegal immigrants – a hot-button topic we’ve already looked at from several angles. We rated this claim Pants on Fire in part because lawmakers created the benefit two years before Rep. Larry Taylor joined the House.
Our look back at the law approved by almost every state legislator and Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 reminded us of popular misconceptions about this tuition-rate issue:
- Is it worth $100,000? Not in most cases. Mitt Romney claimed the Texas law gives undocumented students an "almost $100,000 discount" if they go to the University of Texas, but that figure is a high estimate of the four-year total at one of the most expensive universities in the state. Most who get this tuition break (73 percent) use it to attend a community college.
- Is it cash in hand? No – it’s a "discount." The students still pay tuition, but at the same rate as Texas residents, and they must meet criteria such as having a Texas high school diploma and Texas residency for three years. Financial aid is a separate topic.
- Is it Texas’ version of the DREAM Act? No. As we described in another Romney fact-check, there are significant differences.
PolitiFact Texas item, "Mitt Romney says Obama, Pelosi and Reid agree with Rick Perry on in-state tuition," November 10, 2011
PolitiFact Texas item, "Rick Perry says only four Texas lawmakers opposed in-state tuition law for illegal immigrants," September 28, 2011
PolitiFact Texas item, "Mitt Romney says illegal immigrants get a $100,000 break on University of Texas tuition over four years," September 28, 2011
PolitiFact Texas item, "Rick Santorum says Rick Perry provided in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants," September 22, 2011
PolitiFact Texas item, "Perry says the TEA checks whether undocumented students are applying for permanent residency," February 14, 2010