Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Brinck Kerr

Committee Member

Michael Miller

Second Committee Member

Geoboo Song

Third Committee Member

Thomas Smith


College Access, Education Policy, Hispanic, Immigrant Students, In-state Tuition, State Policy


This research studies the effects of state laws banning access to in-state resident tuition (ISRT) rates and other educational benefits for unauthorized immigrant students (UIS) in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. It measures the overall effect of policies denying ISRT that were implemented between 2005-2012 in the United States.

Three potential effects are evaluated. First, the study estimates the policy effects on the college enrollment of UIS. Because the policy does not deny access to higher education institutions, the possibility exists for this population to attend public or private colleges. However, facing higher costs (i.e., out-of-state tuition) can deter them from continuing their educational plans. Second, considering the potential dynamic effects of policies banning access to ISRT for UIS, the research evaluates the policy effects on school drop out rates among unauthorized immigrants. The lack of real opportunities to attend higher education might demotivate secondary UIS, thus prompting them to drop out of school. Finally, the research estimates the effects of banning ISRT access for UIS on the enrollment of citizens and legal residents in higher education.

To answer the research questions a multivariate regression difference-in-differences identification strategy is advanced through the construction of a natural quasi-experiment using as the main data source the American Community Survey. The research finds significant negative policy effects on the college attendance rates of Hispanic foreign-born non-citizens who are highly likely to be unauthorized immigrants in policy states compared to their peers in non-policy states. The results also indicate that among the groups analyzed, policies have mainly affected recent high school graduates. With regard to dropping out of school, no-statistically significant evidence was found to support the hypothesis of dynamic effects of the policies on the enrollment of unauthorized immigrants in secondary education. This research finds no evidence of college attendance benefits for U.S.-born citizens associated with the ISRT policy, save for suggestive evidence for a subgroup of Black men. Suggestive evidence of moderate benefits among two subgroups of naturalized citizens is also found.