Most states did not allow immigrants to pay resident tuition before the president’s decision. However, US education officials have said that students with deferred deportations are not eligible for federal financial aid.
To pay resident tuition in Massachusetts, state officials said, immigrants must meet the same standards as any other student, including fulfilling academic requirements and the minimum length of state residency for that school.
It is unclear how many Massachusetts students will be affected by Patrick’s announcement. From 10,000 to 20,000 immigrants in Massachusetts could apply for Obama’s deferred action program, according to estimates from the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, but those numbers have not materialized.
Federal statistics for Massachusetts were unavailable, but as of last week the state had not cracked the top 10 states in the number of applicants, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency administering the program. Fewer students from Massachusetts had applied than in Virginia, which ranked 10th with less than 6,000 applications.
Nationwide, more than 300,000 immigrants have applied for the program, much lower than initial government estimates of 800,000 or more. Of these, the government has approved more than 53,000 applications and rejected more than 10,000. Officials said the rest are under review.
More than 80 percent of the deferred-action applicants were from Latin America. Latino voters, both US-born and naturalized citizens, helped catapult Obama to a second term.
Other significant groups applying for deferred action include South Koreans and natives of the Philippines.