TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima Community College said it has seen a significant drop in DACA student following a tuition ruling in April.
It’s what advocates had feared would happen when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled those in the program are no longer eligible for in-state tuition, saying it’s a public benefit.
PCC said 88 students were enrolled for the first day of the current semester, compared to last fall when that number was 171. That translates to a drop of about 48 percent.
The college also said students enrolled are also taking a slightly smaller course load.
The ruling means DACA students attending PCC must now pay triple the amount per credit.
After the ruling, advocates for those in the program worried the higher costs would cause students to drop out.
Paulina Aguilera used to attend PCC, but said she decided to put her education on hold.
She said two of her scholarships were taken away as part of the ruling as she no longer qualifies for financial aid. Aguilera said she plans to work to save enough money to return next fall.
"My parents have told me that it’s not a big deal to take a gap year. It’s common. But it just wasn’t my plan. I wanted to go to school right away. I had all my classes picked out. I was already enrolled. I had my scholarships. And it just got all taken away from me and it was just really hard,” she said.
PCC said it anticipates an even bigger drop in enrollment in the spring.
DACA students who signed up for Fall 2018 courses before the ruling were allowed to pay the in-state rate. However, in the spring all DACA recipients will be required to pay the out-of-state rate.