DACA Rally

Scholarships A-Z members and supporters rally at the University of Arizona for in-state tuition for DACA students.

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

Thousands of "Dreamers" are going to have to pay more next year if they want to attend any of the Arizona's three universities or community colleges.

In a brief order Monday morning the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that it violates both state and federal law to offer those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the same tuition as paid by other state residents. The justices did not explain their ruling, promising a full written opinion later.

But today's ruling may not necessarily mean that DACA recipients who meet other residency requirements will have to pay the same tuition as out-of-state students.

The Arizona Board of Regents already has adopted what could be seen as a fall-back position which would allow dreamers to pay a rate equal to 150 percent of resident tuition.

Regent Jay Heiler, who came up with the concept, said that eliminates any conflict with a 2006 voter-approved law which spells out that any person who is not a U.S. citizen or "legal resident" or is "without lawful immigration status" is ineligible to be charged the same tuition at state colleges and universities available to residents.

More to the point, Heiler said that 150 percent figure appears to cover the actual cost of instruction. And that, he said, means the state and its taxpayers would not be subsidizing the cost of education for Dreamers who, the way the court has read the law, are not here legally.

But it remains to be seen whether such a plan would run afoul of federal laws which may require that DACA recipients pay the full out-of-state rate.