Georgia loses tax dollars, college grads through immigrant policy

[private]Georgia could add 5,000 people to its pool of college graduates and generate an additional $10 million in tax revenues annually if it revised a policy that restricts or prohibits undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges.

That was the conclusion of a report released this week by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, an Atlanta-based think tank.

The report analyzed the consequences of a University System policy that requires undocumented immigrants who attend a public college to pay out-of-state tuition rates, which are about $16,000 higher per year than in-state tuition.

The policy only allows undocumented immigrant students to attend public colleges that have openings in their freshman class – that prevents immigrants from attending research institutions like Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia.

These undocumented immigrants are allowed to reside in Georgia under a federal executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that applies to people brought to the U.S. as children by their parents.

“Georgia can add more than 5,000 college graduates to the workforce if DACA-eligible Georgians who are high school graduates but not attending college can secure college degrees at a rate similar to minority Georgians ages 25 to 54,” the GBPI report concluded.

“The state can add an estimated $10 million per year to state and local coffers through a more skilled, higher earning workforce if it allows Georgians to pay in-state tuition at any public college or university if they are eligible to work without threat of deportation,” the report said.

Gov. Nathan Deal launched a “Complete College Georgia Initiative” in 2011 with the goal of increasing the number of residents with postsecondary school credentials. Deal has said the state should add 250,000 college graduates by 2020 to meet its workforce demands.

The GBPI report noted that the governor’s goal would be easier to achieve if in-state tuition was available to DACA-eligible immigrant students.

Other southern states like Texas and Florida already allow undocumented students to attend college and pay the in-state tuition rate.

A similar policy here would “would remove Georgia’s competitive disadvantage with other states with more inclusive policies. It would also capitalize on the investments by the K-12 school system and add to the state’s pool of college graduates,” GBPI said.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: GBPI , immigrant students , in-state tuition , University System