Eight students were arrested in front of the Michigan Union this past April for blocking traffic. Fifty crowded the April meeting of the University’s Board of Regents wearing bright maize shirts. These students — organized by the Coalition for Tuition Equality — gathered time and again to advocate for in-state tuition for undocumented students.

After almost a year of activity, and the convening of a joint task force of administrators and students, University President Mary Sue Coleman’s promise of a “positive recommendation” for tuition equality will be presented before the regents at their meeting Thursday.

University Provost Martha Pollack, in communication with the regents, has proposed simplified residency guidelines that will specify three pathways for attaining in-state residency status: being a Michigan resident, service in the U.S. military or attending Michigan middle or high schools.

“Students who are not legal residents of the state of Michigan or of the United States may qualify for in-state tuition under this school-attendance-based approach,” Pollack said.

Students who qualify for this attendance-based approach would be those who attended a Michigan middle school for two years followed by three years of attendance at and graduation from a Michigan high school. These students would also need to start their University education within 28 months of graduating from high school.

These changes to determining residency, the first review of this policy since 2005, will be implemented by January 2014. However, this will still not change the ability for undocumented students to receive federal financial aid.

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the University decided to implement the policy in January, rather than in September for fall semester, because it gives University staff enough time to make sure “all of the details have been adequately worked through.”

Pollack said in a University press release that the changes provided a simpler path for those seeking to qualify for in-state tuition.

“We believe these changes create a clearer path to in-state tuition for several groups of future students, including military veterans and undocumented students who have made Michigan their home,” she said.

But with the passage of these changes, despite the constitutional autonomy of the University and the ability of the Regents to set tuition independent of the state, the University could face injunctive lawsuits to reverse the policy.

University administrators, including former University Provost Phil Hanlon and President Coleman, both articulated concerns in interviews in January with The Michigan Daily with the legal hurdles faced in implementing tuition equality.

Fitzgerald said the University felt this was the best approach to moving forward with the matter and is uncertain how that may play out in the legal arena.

“I guess we will just have to watch that and see what comes,” Fitzgerald said.

On social media platforms, including Twitter, many have expressed excitement with this development, including the Coalition for Tuition Equality.

“The time is NOW for the Regents to give in-state tuition to the undocumented students who have worked hard and braved many obstacles to achieve it,” CTE tweeted.

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