Most Policy Initiative logo

Postsecondary Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students

November 11, 2020
view pdf
WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley

Missouri currently prohibits postsecondary institutions from offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduate from Missouri high schools. The rationale for differential tuition has been that, given limited financial resources, Missouri citizens should be the sole focus of state tuition subsidies in the form of in-state resident discounts. Research suggests, however, that tuition equity for undocumented students is likely to improve workforce development and economic growth in Missouri without limiting higher education access to U.S. citizens.


  • Since 2015, the Missouri budget has included language which requires postsecondary institutions to charge no less than international tuition to undocumented students.
  • Average enrollment across Missouri postsecondary institutions has decreased by 10.8% in the last five years. If in-state tuition were extended to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in Missouri, it is unlikely that the spaces occupied by these students would limit the availability of postsecondary education to Missouri citizens.
  • In-state resident tuition is associated with improved college completion rates and higher earnings, which contribute to state economic growth through increased spending and higher tax income. Institutional culture and revenue also benefit from enrolling new students who had previously been constrained by non-resident tuition rates.


  • Research that approximates the impact of tuition equity policies requires the use of proxies to estimate the number and behavior of undocumented students in the state.
  • Due to difficulty tracking student activity across state lines, it is not currently possible to quantify the amount of revenue lost when an undocumented student moves to another state to pursue postsecondary education and enter the workforce.
Most Policy Initiative logo
238 E High St., 3rd Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101

© 2022 MOST Policy Initiative | Website design and development by Pixel Jam Digital
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram