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After tuition ruling, Arizona Dreamers face uncertainty about education future

When Jaziel Olmeda returns to community college this month, his tuition will be triple what it was last fall.

He’s been through worse.

The 19-year-old Phoenix College sophomore has survived leukemia three times. He made it through two bone marrow transplants, numerous rounds of chemotherapy. And he finished high school on time.

Now, his future is uncertain again, albeit to a lesser degree. While Olmeda attends college less than a mile from his high school alma mater, Metro Tech High School, he’s blocked from paying in-state tuition rates.

“After everything that I have been through, everything I accomplished, it’s all just going to be taken away from me because our lawmakers believe I shouldn’t be eligible for in-state, or I shouldn’t be eligible to follow my dreams?” Olmeda said.

Olmeda is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young adults who were brought to the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work here.

DACA recipients, commonly referred to as “dreamers,” lost a state court battle in April over tuition.

Previously, Arizona community colleges and public universities allowed DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition, a policy that began in 2015.

But the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the law didn’t allow DACA recipients to access in-state rates, which are considered a public benefit.

They now face higher rates, from 150 percent of in-state tuition up to full out-of-state costs, meaning DACA recipients could end up paying as much as three times more to stay in school.

More than 2,000 DACA recipients attended community college in Maricopa County, and nearly 300 were enrolled at a state university in Arizona when the ruling was issued.

It’s not yet known how many will continue to attend college this fall.

Since the April ruling, the state’s public universities and community colleges have tried to cover the tuition increase using private funds from donations. Private universities also have stepped up, offering lower-cost tuition and scholarships for DACA recipients.

Students have sought out additional scholarships or added work to amass money. Others have decided to go to different schools where costs will be more manageable.

To read the full article, please visit the Arizona Republic website: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2018/08/06/arizona-daca-recipients-face-new-struggles-after-tuition-ruling/823934002/