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Landmark Case

Antonio Rojas Rodriguez, et al. v. John L. Finan, et al.

South Carolina denied in-state college tuition rates to U.S. citizens living in the state but unable to prove the lawful immigration status of their parents – an unconstitutional policy that more than tripled the cost of tuition. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit to end the practice.

In addition to the increased tuition, these students were ineligible for state academic merit scholarships and education assistance grant programs due to this policy. The difference in tuition for students affected by these policies is staggering. At the College of Charleston, the annual cost for a four-year bachelor’s degree was $10,558 for residents, but more than $27,000 for nonresidents.

For South Carolina resident Antonio Rojas Rodriguez, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, the state’s policy needlessly interfered with his college plans by classifying him as an out-of-state student. He also wouldn’t receive a South Carolina merit-based LIFE Scholarship and state grant despite otherwise qualifying. Without access to in-state tuition rates, his college plans were likely to be put on hold.

The case resulted in a change to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Residency Guidelines to make clear that U.S. citizens who are dependent on undocumented parents can access in-state tuition and scholarships for the state’s public colleges and universities, if they otherwise meet South Carolina residency requirements.

Read more here about how the SPLC has helped other students successfully fight these decisions and get their college plans back on track.