Arizona Republic
Mar. 1, 2007

Author: Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

A majority of students who attend the state's three universities probably won't have to show additional documentation to prove their citizenship.

A proposal going to the Arizona Board of Regents next week would give universities the go-ahead to implement Proposition 300, an initiative passed by voters last year that prohibits undocumented residents from getting in-state tuition.

The proposal would require students who want in-state tuition to present an Arizona driver's license issued after 1996, a passport or a birth certificate.

However, if they successfully complete the federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, they likely won't need to show additional proof, as the FAFSA already screens students for citizenship.

About 70 percent of students at Northern Arizona University and 60 percent at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona fill out the FAFSA.

University officials have been struggling with how to implement Proposition 300 since the measure went into effect in December. Some legislators have accused them of dragging their feet. The central dilemma has been whether colleges should require all students to present documents or just take their word on a form.

Nancy Tribbensee, an attorney for the Board of Regents, said the proposal meets the requirements of the new law. The law does not specify how universities and community colleges should implement the measure.

Universities are relying on the FAFSA because it requires a Social Security number, which is sent to the U.S. Department of Education and verified with the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Both NAU and UA said they plan to start asking students who didn't file a FAFSA to prove their citizenship before the end of this semester. ASU officials could not be reached for comment.

"I do expect there will be stragglers, and they will be classified as out-of-state (students) until they demonstrate they are in-state," said David Bousquet, NAU vice president for enrollment management and student affairs.

Former state Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, who pushed Proposition 300, reviewed the proposal Wednesday and said it seems to meet the law.

"Better late than never," he said Wednesday.

Proposition 300 requires students who cannot prove their legal immigration status to pay out-of-state tuition at the state's public universities and colleges. The law more than triples their tuition costs and prohibits them from receiving financial assistance with state money.

Schools also must report to the Legislature how many undocumented immigrants are in attendance.

Danny Ortega, a Phoenix attorney and Latino activist, said his biggest concern is that all students are treated fairly and no one is singled out because of race.

"Sometimes the policies don't reach the people who actually implement them day to day," he said.

The Board of Regents is expected to vote on the proposal at its March 8 meeting at UA in Tucson.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-8072.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B1