University of Hawai`i  Report on HR 87

 “Requesting the University of Hawai’i to study the feasibility of permitting certain immigrant students who have not yet attained legal permanent resident status to attend the University of Hawai’i at the resident tuition rate.”

HR 87 requests the University of Hawai’i  (UH) to study the feasibility of permitting certain aliens, other than non-immigrant aliens as defined by Title 8, United States Code, Section 1101, Paragraph 15, subsection (a) to enroll at UH at the resident tuition rate. Temporary visitors, ambassadors, members of the press, foreign students, religious workers and others will continue to be required to pay non-resident tuition fees consistent with their status as non-residents. The resolution further identifies two provisos which limit the types of students who would be eligible to pay resident tuition fees:

(1)   The student has obtained a diploma from a Hawai’i high school following three years of enrollment, or obtained a general education diploma in Hawai’i; and

(2)    The student files an affidavit with UH stating that an application to legalize the student’s immigration status has been filed or will be filed when eligible to do so.

As noted in the testimony presented by the University of Hawai’i on HR 87, California and Texas passed legislation allowing certain immigrant students to pay resident tuition rates.  Like Hawai’i, these states have large immigrant groups  that contribute to the strength of their communities. The University agrees with the resolution’s findings that (1) “the State of Hawai’i has a strong interest in seeing that all its residents have equal access to education;” and (2) many of these children who were raised in Hawai’i and graduated from Hawai’i high schools may be eligible for admission to UH and would attend UH except for the high cost of non-resident tuition they are required to pay because of not having yet achieved legal permanent resident status; have strong roots in Hawai’i and their communities, and when armed with advanced degrees will contribute to Hawai’i`s productivity, create new businesses, and stimulate economic growth.”   If more of these students were able to enroll at the University, the numbers of under-represented ethnic minorities would increase, one of the goals of the University’s strategic plan.  The majority of these foreign born students would be of Filipino, Hispanic and Pacific Island ancestry, groups who have been identified by the University as under-represented. 

Na Loio, an immigrant rights and public interest legal center in Honolulu stated in its testimony on HB 1960 (similar to HR 87) that they estimate 100 undocumented students may be eligible. It is likely that the majority of these students, like other under-represented ethnic minorities in the state, would attend the Community Colleges   and fewer would attend the four-year campuses.  Although it is difficult to estimate the number of undocumented students who would enroll at UH campuses at the resident rate, dollar estimates are provided for planning purposes and for this report.   The following estimate is based on 100 students attending the various campuses:


Campus   Revenue  Differential
10 Manoa students   $33,120  $64,800
5   Hilo students       $8,640      $28,080
5   West O`ahu students    $10,560      $25,680
80 Community College students  $86, 400       $378,240

 Total revenue from resident tuition fees: $138, 720

Total value of non-resident differential waived: $ 496,800

Total  non-resident tuition revenue currently received from these students: $0

 Undocumented students are expected to be from low-income families and communities and would likely not enroll if they are charged the higher non-resident tuition fee, i.e. UH would receive $0 non-resident tuition revenue.  Thus, although the value of the non-resident differential can be computed, it is not useful to interpret this amount as strictly “forgone revenue”.  It is likely that the University of Hawai`i would increase its student enrollment of underrepresented ethnic groups and increase its revenue if these undocumented students were allowed to pay resident rates, (i.e. increase from 100 students and obtain $138,720 tuition revenue).  The University and the State have strong policy statements on equal access to affordable education to persons living in Hawai`i.   Our initial estimate is that the financial impact of allowing 100 (or even 200) undocumented students to enroll at resident tuition rate would not be  large and may actually increase tuition revenue. Similar to other groups that are given the non-resident tuition differential, the University will have to determine appropriate documentation of eligibility and inform applicants of the appropriate registration procedures. Our initial assessment is that it is feasible to allow these undocumented students who meet certain requirements to pay resident tuition rates. 

 In l995 and l996 the Legislature deleted various groups eligible for the non-resident tuition differential and gave the Board of Regents authority over these and related matters.  In l997, the Board of Regents approved various tuition waivers and an implementation plan to continue to allow the following to pay resident rates: (1) US military personnel and their dependents; (2) employees of the University and their dependents; (3) East-West Center students; (4) students from Asian and Pacific Island jurisdictions without post secondary institutions offering baccalaureate degrees; (5) Native Hawaiians; and (6) a maximum of 600 outstanding students from Asia and the Pacific attending Manoa and Hilo; and (7) Institutional agreements approved by the President or the Board.  

 The University will be undertaking a review of these non-resident tuition differential programs and other related tuition programs (e.g. the Western University Exchange rate 150% of resident tuition fee).   This review will include proposals for various categories of students, including undocumented students who meet certain criteria as identified in HR 87. We will continue to monitor the experiences of campuses in California and Texas and also review federal laws that may impact this proposal.