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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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She is 25 years old, how can

She is 25 years old, how can she be considered a dependant? At 25 it shouldn't matter where her parents live. So what you are telling me, is that if I go to school in Florida for 2 years and I plan on moving there, after my two years of school I should be considered a resident of Florida and only have to pay in-state tuition? And again....SHE IS NOT A US CITIZEN!!!! If she wants to move to NC, fine become a US Citizen and do what is necessary to be a resident of NC.

As I mention below,

As I mention below, according to the IRS website, an "adult" child can be considered a dependent until the age of 24. So that is how she was able to manage it until then. I haven't seen anything in these articles that stated her actual age, so I can only say that she was quite rightfully claimed until age 24. Her citizenship *is* pending according to the article, so she is working toward the end of becoming a US citizen. It's unfortunate that now, what by all other accounts would classify her as having estabilished residence here isn't enough to allow her to continue her education without superfluous and substantial financial burden. She isn't undocumented, she isn't a burden on society, she isn't asking for a handout. She seems to have done everything one could expect of a productive young human being, and two years of it in this very state. We'll have to agree to disagree here, Wilm. I personally think that if the UNC system is even CONSIDERING giving to it illegals, they could certainly consider giving her in-state rates given the fact that she's crossed her t's at least during her time here.


Don't even get me started on the illegals issue. If they do that here in NC my child WILL NOT attend school here. As far as this girls age, I believe it was in the first article that stated she was 25, which would mean her parents residency means nothing. I know she is trying to gain US Citizenship, and thats great, but until then she is not a US Citizen and shouldn't be given in-state tuitin. Now, after she get's her citizenship and she is able to gain legal residency, then I could agree she should get in-state tuition. Here's the problem I have with this whole issue. Any from any other state can attent college in a different state, say they love it there, and say they want to become a resident there, gain residency and in-state tuition, and then as soon as school is out, they high tail it to where they really want to go. I think in order to get in-state tuition, your residency should be determined before you begin college, not after you are already enrolled

But consider this; Let's say

But consider this; Let's say that the average college student is here in NC getting a 4 year degree. Let's agree that most college students are working in NC during their college career, thereby paying NC income tax, on top of sales tax, fuel tax, etc. Are they not residents in every sense that matters at that point? And hell, as a full fledged resident I can take advantage of in-state tuition and book it out of here graduation day. I am one of those who didn't have to pay a dime in state income tax until after graduation, nor did my parents for that matter. But I would be eligible for in-state tuition regardless. Is that fair?

Bottom line.....


Not in the UNC system

Not in the UNC system apparently, but Wake CC had no problem giving it to her.

And according to UNC

And according to UNC advisors, Wake was in the wrong. And just because they were in the wrong doesn't mean others should do the same

In-State Tuition

Neither are illegal aliens but the schools sure want to give them a free ride.

I never said that was right either

And I'm completely against that as well

Except that TRUE residents...

...also pay income taxes. So under the current system, sales taxes don't count toward "being a taxpayer." If we'd dump income taxation and adopt a consumption-based tax such as the Fair Tax, your argument would be much more valid.

I'm with you on the fair tax

I think the country adopting a new consumption based tax system is the only logical way to go

I'll agree with you there

I'll also agree with you on that one Scally. A consumption based tax would also do away with the under the table payment and would be able to tax drug dealers when they spend their cash.

There is no such thing!

There is no such thing as a fair consumption based tax. Any flat tax plan would still require those that are in the lower income brackets to pay more than their fair share proportionately to their income than the rich. You are blind if you can't see that and think it's fair!

Well, that's assuming that

Well, that's assuming that she didn't hold any sort of job. We don't know that either way I suppose. Consumption taxes DO pay for infrastructure, do they not? So what's the difference between that and income tax when it comes right down to it? It is all money that goes to the gov't for to be spent at their discretion for the benefit (or of this state. So by virtue of that, she has contributed to the wealth (using the term loosely) of NC for the past two years that she has lived (not visited) here on a daily basis. All of THAT aside, her parents HAVE presumably paid state income tax in some form or fashion, and she is their dependant. Since her citizenship issues seem to preclude her from any sort of financial age, is it so unreasonable for her to be granted in-state tuition given the other compensating factors?

Big difference

Every single tourist passing through the state pays sales tax on food, fuel, and lodging. Do they all qualify for in-state tuition? as another poster pointed out, she's twenty-five years old. This was obviously a big scam that failed.

But she isn't a tourist.

But she isn't a tourist. She's lived in the state for a coupla years, as do her parents who have lived here a bit longer than that. As for her age, I didn't believe she was quite 25, but I could be wrong. Even so, her parent's could quite rightfully claim her as a dependent until the age of 24, if what I read on the IRS site was right. So where is the scam? She was allowed the benefit of in-state tuition when she came her to attend Wake CC, so I can see why she would have had that same expectation for UNCW after having lived in the state for two years. I can also see why it would be reasonable to grant her in-state rates given the circumstances. I guess it's a moot point, and the decision has been made, but if anyone is perpetuating a scam, it's the UNC system.