Out-of-state tuition remains for DACA students following Board of Regents lawsuit

Posted on February 4, 2016
Elizabeth Rhaney, Photo Editor

On Monday, Feb. 1, the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students against the Georgia Board of Regents.

Students said in the lawsuit that their status as DACA residents makes them lawful citizens of the state and therefore they are entitled to in-state tuition rates. Currently, students have to pay out-of-state tuition and are not permitted to attend the top five universities in Georgia. The Board of Regents does not consider DACA students to be residents of the state.

Additionally, students requested that the rule be re-examined under the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act. In the case OLVERA et al. v. UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA’S BOARD OF REGENTS et al., the act states:

“The validity of any rule, waiver, or variance may be determined in an action for declaratory judgment when it is alleged that the rule, waiver, or variance or its threatened application interferes with or impairs the legal rights of the petitioner.”

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the act could not be applied in this instance because the Board of Regents is protected by “sovereign immunity.” Only a general assembly can override that immunity.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the Board’s policy was not “pursuant to the APA.”

The Court states at the end of the case, however, that “[o]ur decision today does not mean that citizens aggrieved by the unlawful conduct of public officers are without recourse. It means only that they must seek relief against such officers in their individual capacities.”

According to the Huffington Post, the students’ lawyer, Charles Kuck, plans to file another lawsuit.

Some students were arrested later the same day at a sit-in protesting the Court’s decision. The sit-in was held at the University of Georgia’s New College. UGA is one of the top five universities that DACA students are not permitted to attend.

Six states deny in-state tuition to DACA students- Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois, Missouri and Arizona.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. According to the National Immigration Law Center, the policy was created by the Obama administration in 2012 to allow young people who came to the United States as children to remain here under deferred action.

According to the website for Armstrong’s Bursar Office, tuition for a full time out-of-state undergraduate student attending the university is an estimated $9,576 per semester. The cost for in state students is estimated at $3,166.