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Update: College student stuck in financial limbo

WILMINGTON -- Last night we told you about a young woman from Canada who moved to our area on a student visa. Her parents are tax paying citizens in North Carolina, but their daughter is being denied in state tuition rates by UNCW. School officials say they are simply following state law by not qualifying her for in-state tuition. UNCW student Monique Cuff said, "It really kind of threw a wrench in my plan. It's really disappointing, I got my hopes up, now I have to rethink everything, rethink my plan." Cuff moved to North Carolina two years ago on a student visa. She transferred to UNCW this year from wake tech community college near Raleigh where she was granted in-state tuition. She figured UNCW would follow wake techs lead and allow her to pay in-state rates, but she was wrong... Now the difference is costing her family thousands of dollars. "I'm not sure if I can afford to finish my degree," Cuff said. "It's very upsetting." Even though community colleges, like Wake Tech, and UNC schools are all run by the state, the institutions don't follow the same policy on who qualifies for in-state tuition. UNCW Tuition Appeals Chair Thom Rakes said, "It's state law, we don't make the state law. We can't decide when we apply the state law and when we don't. We have to apply it at all times." UNC system rules state anyone who is in the country on a student visa cannot qualify for in-state tuition. Rakes says the rules apply even in cases like Cuffs where her citizenship is pending and her parents, who claim her as a dependent, are North Carolina tax-paying residents. "They're very strict. The state legislature feels very strongly, they want to reserve the lower in-state rate for bona fide North Carolina residents," Rake said. In December the president of UNC announced that he is considering in-state tuition for undocumented illegal immigrants. A spokesperson for UNC said the system is doing research to see if the proposal would be worth while, no word on when the research will be complete or when a decision will be made.

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