BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick has instructed state colleges and universities to allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates to attend state colleges and universities.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports 

In a letter sent Monday to the Board of Higher Education, Patrick said immigrants who obtain a work permit through a new federal program instituted by President Barack Obama would be eligible to pay the lower rates.

WBZ Daily Poll: Should Illegal Immigrants Pay In-State Tuition?

The governor told reporters the directive is in line with an existing state policy that allows people with work permits and valid Massachusetts residency to qualify for in-state tuition.

“It’s about a change in policy at the federal level and consistent application of our policy here in Massachusetts,” Patrick told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Monday.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

But he said it was only a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform.

The flagship University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $26,645 this year for nonresidents, compared with $13,230 for residents. Bunker Hill Community College costs $5,640 this year for residents, compared with $13,880 for nonresidents. Framingham State costs $8,080 for residents this year, compared with $14,160 for nonresidents.

To qualify for the program, immigrants will also have to meet all existing rules for admission to the colleges and universities, including academic requirements.

Steve Kropper, co-chairman of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform, which favors tougher limits on immigration, said the governor and the president should focus on making college affordable for U.S. citizens and legal residents.

It wasn’t immediately known how many immigrants might benefit from the Massachusetts program.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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