State Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) is drafting legislation to repeal a 2021 bill that made college students eligible for state financial aid regardless of immigration status.

“We are in the midst of a higher education cost crisis caused by the federal government’s continued involvement in the student loan process,” Reeves said in a press release. “To think that we would prioritize students that are here illegally over our country’s own citizens is astounding. All this does is decrease the pool of scholarships and funds available to law-abiding U.S. citizens who reside in Virginia, worsening the issues that our youth face today when it comes to the accessibility of higher education. To support this legislation would feel like turning my back on my constituents. I am committed to repealing this unethical, irresponsible law.”

State Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) and Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) sponsored the twin bills SB 1387 and HB 2123 in 2021, but the legislation did not take effect until August 2022. In 2020, Delegate Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) introduced legislation that said a student couldn’t be ineligible for in-state tuition based solely on their parents’ immigration status.

In January 2021, Lopez told the House of Delegates that his bill built on work from the year before, making sure that students who are eligible for in-state tuition also received educational benefits and financial aid regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.

“Students would have to meet the same criteria as they would for in-state tuition: they would need to have graduated from high school in Virginia since June of 2008 and they, or their parents would have been required to have paid at least two years of state taxes,” he said.

Reeves is also focused on the in-state eligibility expansion currently in state law. A repeal of the in-state tuition and financial aid eligibility changes is likely to be killed in committee in the Democrat-majority Senate in 2023, but Republicans are pinning their hopes on the 2024 Virginia General Assembly session, after House and Senate elections have been held, potentially shifting control of the legislature. Reeves is facing a challenger but is the favorite for the Republican nomination in Senate District 28.

“SB 1387, as it stands, grants in-state tuition rates to illegal migrants residing within the Commonwealth. The bill, signed into law by former Governor Northam (D-Virginia) in March of 2021, currently provides individuals in-state tuition rates regardless of their legal status in the U.S., as well as access to financial assistance from VA Universities and other sources,” Reeves’ release states.

He said, “The idea that my own child might be denied entrance to a Virginia university because their acceptance slots have been filled by individuals who have violated a multitude of federal laws is infuriating. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and frustration fellow parents are feeling around the Commonwealth, especially as we enter this year’s application period for many VA universities.”

Lopez responded on Twitter, “This legislation will harm the lives of hardworking Virginia students. Pitting communities against each other and actively working to cut off access to higher education for CHILDREN is ugly, wrong and not who we are as Virginians. Tell your Members to OPPOSE this divisive bill.”


Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News NetworkThis article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.