- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

RICHMOND The House of Delegates agreed in a preliminary vote yesterday that illegal aliens living in Virginia must pay out-of-state tuition to attend public colleges and universities.
"This clarifies existing Virginia law that in-state tuition is not available to illegal aliens," said Delegate Thelma Drake, a Norfolk Republican and the bill's primary sponsor.
House members are expected to formally vote today, then send the bill to Senate chambers. If the senators agree, General Assembly members have until mid-February to submit the bill to Gov. Mark R. Warner for final approval.
Mrs. Drake said Virginia officials are investigating whether they can also deny illegal aliens admission to the schools. Meanwhile, the bill ensures that the commonwealth is at least not subsidizing illegal activity, she said.
The issue of illegal aliens was raised in the fall when school administrators approached Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore's office about the problem.
"Because an unmodified alien is … subject to deportation, undocumented aliens cannot as a matter of law meet Virginia's statutory requirement for" in-state tuition, Mr. Kilgore wrote in response.
Mr. Kilgore, the governor and other high-ranking Virginia officials can propose legislation. But Mrs. Drake had to sponsor Mr. Kilgore's measure because only General Assembly members can submit the legislation.
Delegate L. Karen Darner, an Arlington Democrat who has proposed legislation for illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition, said Mrs. Drake's bill denies those students their right to the American dream.
"They want to be the first in their family to graduate from high school and go to college," she said.
Miss Darner's legislation and a similar bill were sent to a state panel for an economic-impact study.
The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be significant.
For example, a three-credit class at Virginia Tech costs in-state residents $480.24, and $1,682.49 for out-of-state students. The Northern Virginia Community College system charges in-state residents $169.69 per class, and $607.41 for those from out-of-state.

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