In-State Tuition For DACA Students Is Part Of Broader Lawsuit By Arizona AG

September 08, 2017

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing the Board of Regents over the cost of tuition at the state’s three public universities.

Part of the case deals with the board's decision to charge recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in-state tuition.

Citing Arizona’s constitutional requirement that tuition shall be as free as possible, the suit alleges three types of unlawful conduct by the Board of Regents. They include the ways the board set tuition, forcing part time and online students to pay athletic and health fees, and risking the state’s ability to charge out-of-state students higher rates by letting DACA students pay in-state tuition.

In-state tuition and mandatory fees have skyrocketed as much as 370 percent in the past 15 years, said Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“Frankly, I feel like they are using the wrong criteria,” Brnovich said. “So we want to get the Regents into court and to have them explain why tuition is not as nearly as free as possible as the constitution requires.”

A spokesperson for the Board of Regents said Friday afternoon that it has not officially been served with the lawsuit, and it will receive legal advice at a special meeting scheduled for Monday.

In July, the conservative group Judicial Watch sent a letter to Brnovich on behalf Arizona’s biggest immigration hawk, Russell Pearce.

The letter promised that if Brnovich did not sue the Board of Regents over its decision to charge DACA students in-state tuition, Pearce would.

Brnovich said the decision to sue sprang from a broader question: whether the Regents have followed the state constitutional mandate to make college as free as possible.  

“We don’t do our job based on threats or whatever some third party may or may not do,” Brnovich said. “We do, at this office, what the law requires us to do.”