Make Michigan's "Dreamers" In-State Eligible

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Make Michigan's "Dreamers" In-State Eligible 

*I had a response from a DACA student, but they preferred to stay anonymous. I scheduled a meeting with the University's legal rep for undocumented students for next week and will update the infographic once I consult with him. 

2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Maria Diaz Age: 19 School/occupation: Works two minimum wage jobs Location: Canton, Michigan   Quote: “I have dreams, but, there are obstacles in my way”   About:
  • Came to Michigan from Central America at the age of 2 with her parents in order to escape violence and find economic opportunities. Her immigration status allows her to qualify as a DACA recipient.
  • Graduated high school at top of her class and took several AP classes geared towards the sciences.
  • Cannot afford out-of-state tuition to attend Michigan State University (MSU) and limited private-scholarships are not enough to subsidize tuition.
  • Major in biology at MSU and eventually attend medical school at The University of Michigan
  • Wants to be a Pediatrician to help underprivileged children in urban and/or rural parts of the state.
  • Finally become a citizen of the country she's only ever known and give back to the community that helped raise her.


POV Statement:
  • User: Maria, a passionate and determined recent graduate of high school who works two minimum wage jobs in order to save up for college, fears that her status as “working” and not continuing her educational studies will prevent her from renewing her status as a DACA recipient and hopes to save up enough money by this coming Fall so she can enroll in her first semester of college before she needs to apply to renew her “Dreamer” status for another two years.  
  • Need: Maria needs access to In-State Tuition in order to reduce the economic burden of attending college, as well as access to a suitable financial aid service that allows her to focus her attention on school and not the additional stress of having to work through her studies.
  • Insight: Having to pay out-of-state rates to attend post-secondary school as well as the cost for reapplying to the DACA 2-year work and education permit is too economically challenging for Maria to have to endure without maintaining a decent wage-paying job, which limits her time and resources from pursuing a lifelong goal.


3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Amend Michigan’s Constitution and include detail on how qualified DACA students can gain access to In-State tuition across the states public universities. Establish a "5 years of secondary schooling" within Michigan as the main requirement to receive In-State Tuition.

SOLUTION 2: Michigan’s Department of Education, the Education Committee in the Senate, and/or the Education Reform Committee in the House of Representatives can issue a resolution that requires all state public universities to establish In-State tuition guidelines for DACA and Undocumented students, similar in nature to the University of Michigan’s policy.

SOLUTION 3: Create and Establish a state-student aid fund that doesn't limit access to Undocumented and DACA students who have meet secondary schooling requirements. This is an optimistic solution that not only provides aid to DACA recipients, but to the thousands of Michigan’s college students struggling with student debt. Including a measure within such bill that allows for DACA students to receive state-sponsored aid more or less paves the way for access to In-State tuition.


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

House Bill 4618 from the 2013 legislative year as well as House Bill 4723 from the 2017 legislative year. Would have established in-state tuition to deferred status and undocumented students.


Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

There are 5,660 DACA recipients as of July 31st, 2018 residing in the state of Michigan. It is estimated that there are at least 15,000 eligible-DACA recipients within the state, but less than half are enrolled in the program as high fees to apply and the short two-year deal make it an economic burden to many of whom are economically disadvantaged. Since the program was rescinded in 2017 by the Trump Administration, all enrollees will finish out their two-year status and return to undocumented status thereafter. Since most kids were brought to America by their parents at a young age trying to escape violence or seek better economic opportunities, their status as DACA recipients ensured that they were protected from deportation so long that they followed the requirements, one being no criminal record. As active members in many of Michigan’s communities, undocumented students should have the right to attend a higher institution at an affordable price. In Michigan, securing in-state tuition for these Dreamers will help them break that economic burden and reach for the American Dream that their parents sought after.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

- The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the The Benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Immigrants in Michigan in December 2017

- One Michigan, an Immigrant support group in Michigan that helps DACA students manage education planning and advises students where to apply for college.


How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

- There are no DACA recipients in the classroom where I am volunteering, however, Detroit Public Schools do educate many DACA students, and the economic challenges that these students experience exists among a majority of the classrooms across the school district, including the one I help in. Being able to support students and encourage them to learn and reach for college has helped me realize the importance of fostering the expansion of educational aid to those who are vulnerable to giving up on their studies.  

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Make Michigan’s Dreamer’s In-State Eligible


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).


Jaun Muñoz- DACA recipient and Junior studying architecture at the University of Michigan, who transferred from community college but has to pay out of state tuition because Michigan’s policy require attendance 28 months after high school, but not 28 months after community college.


Mr. Muñoz first wanted to explain that there are few DACA students left in the system since the program was rescinded in 2017 and no new applications are being accepted until the Supreme Court review in September of this year. He, like other DACA students attending Michigan, are worried that students who will be entering their freshman year in the fall, who would otherwise qualify for DACA status, will not have the deferred status, which for some public institutions helps qualify that student to receive in-state tuition. He is also concerned that without the work permit, these students will not have enough saved to go to college and therefore cannot get a degree. Mr. Muñoz attended community college after graduating high school so he could save money taking prerequisite classes before transferring to Taubman College of Architecture at the University of Michigan. However, Michigan’s policy requires the student to have applied to Michigan within 28 months of high school graduation. Since Mr. Muñoz attended community college, he applied to attend Michigan more than 28 months after high school graduation and therefore loses eligibility to receive Michigan residency for in-state tuition. He shared that Grand Valley State University offers a 28 month extension to attendance at a community college, but they do not have the program that interested him. He is excited to be attending Michigan now and likes that the university has taken the stance on supporting DACA and undocumented students, but feels that there are still parts to the policy that need to be added for full protection. He and other DACA students, have spoken before the Board of Regents at Michigan and argue their case of extended 28 months to transfer students as well, and believes that the Regent’s will see their point of view and make the changes. I asked him if he thinks the policy should left up to the schools or should the state government establish an amendment to the states constitution that would lay out a statewide policy for all public universities? He strongly supported the latter, saying that there is too much ambiguity across all schools, making it hard for students to choose which school offers the best legal and affordable benefits for them, and that a statewide amendment would establish standard qualifications for DACA and undocumented students to receive residency and make all public universities in the state more inclusive.

CONSULTATION 2: Sam Singh- Former Democratic House Minority Leader and vice-chair for the Government Operations Committee in 2013--sponsored HB4618 and oversaw its position within committee hearings

Mr. Singh argued for the Democrats that status (that being your citizenship) shouldn’t be a determinate on whether or not someone can attend college. He stated that status can play a role in one's ability to receive government sponsored aid, but status should not prohibit one from pursuing a right to education. He also stated that institutions across the state that have not passed in-state initiatives have remained silent on the topic as “they did not want to start any controversial problems.” When I asked him if the same piece of legislation were to be brought to House and Senate floors, would it pass? He said no and the main reason being that the Republicans still hold a majority in both those chambers respectively, showing that this legislation in partisan supported, and because it involves immigration, most Republicans view it as an easy pass to gaining American Citizenship. He alluded to former Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to create the Michigan Office of New Americans that supports immigration growth in the state for economic reasons, was not well liked by the governor’s own party. He stressed that DACA and the topic of immigration receives mixed feelings at the political level, but when you get to the individual level where numbers become faces, an overwhelming feeling within the state is that these people belong here and should be provided support to gain citizenship. He wanted to show that this bill was more on the notion of supporting the education sector and economic growth in the state, and less oriented around the discussion of immigration. In terms of tax revenue, he said that $13 million dollars contributed to a $55 billion dollar budget may seem like a small, insignificant proportion, but it does allude to the idea that DACA recipients are supporting the growth of the state’s economy as a whole, and providing access to higher education will ensure that tax revenue will continue to grow and the state will gain more spending dollars to use towards services that will benefit everyone within the state. On that note, he challenged an argument brought forward by Republicans that claims DACA recipients are taking services from the state and not contributing back into it, as one that is not true and a talking point that rallies people against the program.


CONSULTATION 3: Stephanie Chang- Former member of Michigan’s House of Representatives, and current member of Michigan’s Senate representing the 1st District of the state. One of her priorities within the Senate Chamber is arguing in support of pro-immigration policies.

Ms. Chang clarified that DACA is a federally affiliated program and that states have no say in who receives protection or how it is administered. States have the power of extending services to immigrants that are not established by the federal government, like in-state tuition to public higher education institutions or even allowing immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. When I asked Ms. Chang how DACA recipients and undocumented citizens contribute to the tax base in the state, she assured their importance from an economical standpoint is beneficial, but, she stressed that they are more important to Michigan’s communities. She stated “DACA recipients are teachers, engineers, members of the military, nurses, and more. DACA recipients are contributing members of their communities who spent the majority of their time growing up in the United States.” A loss of their commitment to assisting Michiganders will not only affect the communities across the state, but a loss in their tax revenue will hurt the state in future budgets. Ms. Chang expressed that her district (comprised of much of Detroit’s riverfront) has DACA students and they are committed to speaking up for their right to go to school and have access to affordable education. She shared the story of one student who came to Michigan at the age of 4 and grew up in his new hometown a Wolverine fan, and when he got into Michigan, was afraid he could not afford it, but the 2014 Board of Regents policy change enabled him to attend his dream school. This motivated her to fight for the rights of immigrants rights where in 2017, she co-sponsored House Bill No. 4723 that would have established in-state tuition for deferred status citizens who attended high school in the state for 3 years, obtained a GED and plans to apply to become a citizen thereafter. The bill did not pass because of the republican control at the time that dominated the house chamber. Ms. Chang believes that because of the 2018 elections which brought more democrats into the House; not by a lot, but enough to potentially persuade GOP colleagues. She has in the past introduced bills in the past to establish policies that would enable immigrants to get drivers license, where she got republican co sponsors to help, but again, a strong GOP controlled house shot down those bills. Ms Chang believes that if the issues facing immigrants are explained in an empathetic way to legislators and the public, that change can happen and DACA and undocumented students could receive in-state tuition if the argument is made in that way.

CONSULTATION 4: MSU Office of the Registrar- University department that handles questions regarding in-state tuition at Michigan’s largest public institution.

I emailed Michigan State University's Office the Registrar asking them if they would be willing to speak on MSU’s reasoning for not allowing DACA students to receive in-state tuition and if they believed that should change. I got a response back from Laura Cole, the Assistant Registrar for the university and she pointed me in the direction of MSU’s Regulations for Qualifying for In-State Tuition and to Section II of the policy where it states:


II.  Establishing Eligibility through Michigan High School Attendance and Graduation.


Students who meet all of the following three (3) requirements will be eligible for in-state tuition status:

  1. Attend an accredited Michigan high school for three (3) years;

  2. Graduate from an accredited Michigan high school, or obtain a Michigan general Educational Development High School Equivalency Certificate (GED); and

  3. Start their education at the University within forty (40) months of high school graduation or receipt of a GED.  

Students are eligible to receive in-state tuition under this section regardless of whether they are domiciled in Michigan, residents of Michigan, or citizens of the United States.

At first glance, one would assume that this rule grants DACA recipients access to in-state tuition and even think that this policy is less strict than U of M’s as it only requires three years of high school In Michigan instead of the additional two in middle school that U of M requires. However, Michigan State will only grants non-citizens access to this policy if they are in pursuit of citizenship through establishing residency in the State of Michigan. DACA is not a formal step towards legal immigration, instead, it's a protection from deportation. It does not allude to one establishing intent to become a citizen, and therefore, negates the chances of DACA and undocumented students from accessing in-state tuition. This plays into Mr. Singh’s idea that other institutions do not want any controversy from the topic and will write policies that seem in favor of support for DACA students, but in the end, continues to hurt those individual's chances of attending their institution.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

I received advice from the TC Jillian Goldstone in a response to my proposal post suggesting that I could get creative in my funding proposal using the state tax statistics regarding DACA recipients. I have since then learned through research and consultations that because of the current status of the DACA program, it is more viable to make the language of my policy include all undocumented students, and not just DACA recipients. That being said, I am using the DACA tax information to show that even though these students received federal support, the lack of access to in-state tuition leaves a majority to only work to save up for college as well as several not seeking a job. This data shows that without the security of a statewide in-state tuition policy, the status of an immigrant doesn’t necessarily determine their ability to go to college, but rather their ability to afford it does.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

In the wake of the Government Shutdown in January, I came across an article that explained a bargain deal involving the protection of the DACA program in exchange for the funding of the Southern Border Wall that President Trump offered to the Democrat’s in the House. If this was Trump’s bragin deal to the Democrats, I was interested in understanding the program’s place in the context of politics. After reading into the program and its relevance in Michigan, I was surprised to find that although recipients are granted a two-year working permit and no threat to deportation, many were not continuing their education while most were in the workforce. One main reason was that all but one of Michigan’s public universities did not allow DACA enrollees to have access to in-state tuition, meaning they had to pay out-of-state tuition; $45,000 or more, and, they do not have access to federal financial aid. Many of the DACA recipients are economically disadvantaged and use their DACA status to maintain a job in order to save up for college. However, Trump’s position on the DACA program points to termination of the program entirely, meaning all that saving up could be for nothing and their chances of deportation grow higher than their chance of going to college. In 2013 and 2017, Democratic members of Michigan’s House of Representatives brought to the floor two bills that would have amended Michigan’s Constitution granting DACA recipients access to in-state tuition if they have received a majority of their secondary education in the state. With a Republican controlled chamber, the bills died in committee and to date, DACA recipients cannot gain access to in-state tuition. Since the 2018 elections, democrats gained more seats in the house chamber and compromise could lead to an approved amendment granting not only DACA students, but undocumented students alike who meet requirements to get in-state tuition. An argument for why this shouldn’t be a partisan position, but rather a commitment to Michigan’s future as state revenue reports show that DACA participants contribute increasing dollars for the state, and if lost, taxable revenue would drop by more than 7 million dollars. With the notion that a degree in higher education brings better paying jobs, an amendment to the State’s Constitution that grants access to in-state tuition for these students can safeguard the state’s tax revenue and be seen as an invest in the growth of Michigan’s economy as well as showing the success of this program as a path to citizenship.


When coming up with a resolved bill, I looked to the University of Michigan’s policy that was approved in 2014, the 2017 unsuccessful HB4723, and 2013 Minnesota’s Dream Act (2019 requirements) requirements that establish in-state residency based on school-attendance, and not just legal residency. The School-Attendance approach follows these guidelines:


UM Board of Regents 2014

“You also may qualify for in-state tuition by demonstrating all of the following: (1) you attended an accredited Michigan high school for at least three years and thereafter (a) graduated from an accredited Michigan High School or (b) received a Michigan General Educational Development High School Equivalency Certificate (GED); (2) you attended an accredited Michigan middle or junior high school for the two years preceding high school; and (3) you are commencing your education at the University within twenty-eight months of graduating from the Michigan high school or receiving your GED.”



Michigan House Bill 4723 from 2017









Minnesota Dream Act 2013 (status as of 2019)

“The MN Dream Act will provide certain benefits to undocumented students who meet the following criteria:

  1. Attended a Minnesota high school for at least 3 years; and

  2. Graduated from a Minnesota high school or earned a GED in Minnesota; and

  3. Registered with the U.S. Selective Service (applies only to males 18 to 25 years old); and

  4. Provide documentation to show they have applied for lawful immigration status but only if a federal process exists for a student to do so (does not include applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). There is currently not a federal process in place, so this documentation is not currently required.”


The University of Michigan’s policy was a game changer for the state in providing in-state tuition benefits for undocumented students, however, it’s policy is too specific and leaves certain individuals out of eligibility. The 2017 House Bill 4723 was the better of the two bills drafted for amending the state tuition policy, but it included direct talk of deferred status individuals, which at the time, the program was being rescinded nationally, making its success in the house chamber hard as Republican legislators didn’t want to include deferred status if it is likely to be terminated in the future. Minnesota’s bill focused only on undocumented individuals, but services extend to DACA recipients. It ensures that if the student has participated in Minnesota’s public schools for at least three years and received their diploma or GED, then they were qualified to get instate tuition to public universities. I believe Minnesota’s approach that just speaks to the general undocumented student could be a model for Michigan to adopt and one that shows supporting these individuals who have been active members in our communities  should be considered eligible of receiving in-state tuition.

  Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

I worked on this policy proposal by myself, but worked with the listed consultants on advice for what would be a reasonable argument and proposal that could pass with the current legislative makeup. I also used reports and data from the listed references to find statistics and tax information regarding DACA students in Michigan.  


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....Michigan’s constitution currently establishes in-state tuition based on residency. Should immigration status be a determinant of whether or not a student can have access to in-state tuition?

WHEREAS....Federally approved DACA recipients have to pay out-of-state tuition and cannot access financial aid, leaving them to rely on limited, private scholarships.

WHEREAS....Annually, DACA recipients contribute $13 million in tax revenue, and if rescinded, the state could lose more than half of that contribution.

WHEREAS …. A college degree secures higher paying jobs and therefore more taxable revenue for the state.


WHEREAS….Of the 16 four-year public institutions in Michigan, only the University of Michigan publicly supports DACA and undocumented students and established school-attendance tuition policy for these students; the other schools have not made statements or shown support to these specific students.  


(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. Amend the State's Constitution (looking to Minnesota’s Dream Act) to include school-attendance as a method of establishing in-state tuition for DACA and undocumented students residing in the state by the following requirements:

  1. Attended a Michigan high school for a minimum of 3 years, and

  2. Graduated from a Michigan high school or earned a GED in Michigan, and

  3. Registered with the U.S. Selective Service (applies only to males 18 to 25 years old)


2. If DACA is terminated in the near future, school-attendance policy will still help those undocumented students entering the college search the chance to pursue a degree and prove that they can be a valuable asset to the state and therefore pursuant of citizenship.

3. Allowing for DACA recipients to gain access to in-state tuition will also grant them access to state-funded scholarships (merit based, etc.) at their respected institution and will further their ability to overcome economic struggles while attending college.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. The DACA Program enables individuals to take services provided by federal and state governments and does not ensure that they will contribute back into the system.

2. If less than 50% of DACA eligible individuals are enrolled in the program, it is a waste in spending resources and under representing those who are supposed to benefit from it.

3. An amendment would still leave the institutions to determine final residency protocols and a bill would force these universities to rush to amend their policies, making for rushed decisions that might get overlooked in the process.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Since tuition rates and merit-based scholarships are established by the universities themselves, my amendment proposal wouldn’t require a funding from the state’s budget. Rather, it is an amendment to the constitution to establish the right for undocumented students to be considered in-state at state public institutions.


These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

Michigan League for Public Policy- The Benefits of DACA on Immigrants in Michigan


One Michigan & Michigan Immigrants Right Center- Undocumented Student Guide to College


Minnesota Dream Act- Policy Information


University of Michigan- Undocumented Students page under Financial Aid


ULead Network- In-State Tuition Policy Michigan




U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services- DACA

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Total votes: 25