Saturday, October 1, 2011

Let's Look at the Numbers: Texas In State Tuition for Undocumented Students

 (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Rick Perry has run into a bit of a political buzz saw over his support for Texas' version of the DREAM Act. The law granting in state tuition to undocumented students who reside in the state 36 months prior to graduating from a Texas High School faced almost no opposition when passed nearly 10 years ago. But in today's tough economic climate, Republican primary voters see this benefit to individuals who are not supposed to be in this country as unacceptable.

Why should Texas taxpayers subsidize their college tuition, is the common refrain. Of course, what many fail to take into consideration is that illegal immigrants pay exactly the same state taxes as anyone else living in Texas i.e, sales and property taxes. There is no state income tax.

Once it is established that illegal immigrants are taxpayers too, the next objection raised by the opponents of the Texas law is whether they paid enough taxes to cover the costs of the education benefits their children receive. Let's look at the numbers.

According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), households headed by illegal immigrants contributed $1.6 billion to the Texas treasury in 2010. The precise number is $1,607,294,735 and it includes both sales and property taxes.

In 2010, the total number of students who filed an affidavit as required by the Texas law was 16,476 . The breakdown was 4,403 enrolled in universities; 12,028 enrolled in community, state and technical colleges; and 45 enrolled in public health related institutions.

The average cost of in state tuition to attend public universities based on being enrolled 15 hours for BOTH Fall and Spring semesters is $7,194 for residents and $16,995 for non residents.  A difference of $9,891. If we take the difference and multiply by 4,403 the result is $43,550,073. The average cost of attending community colleges is $1,410 for resident and $4,799 for non resident resulting in a difference of $3,389. Again, if we multiply the difference with the number of undocumented students attending community colleges the result is $40,762,892. For the remaining 45 students the total subsidy is $486,225 (The difference between resident and non resident is $10,805).

Based on the numbers above the total taxpayer subsidy received by undocumented students in 2010 was $84,799,190. Or approximately $85 million. The $1.6 billion collected by illegal immigrants more than covers that figure. To be specific that leaves $1,522,495,545 (or $1.5 billion) to pay for K-12 education. That will be the next set of numbers to look at.