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Undocumented students to attend Ga. public colleges
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The state Board of Regents announced Wednesday that of 50,000 new students stepping into Georgia's public colleges this fall, 242, or less than half of one percent, are undocumented.

The preliminary numbers were released by the regents' Residency Verification Committee, which Chancellor Erroll Davis created this summer to make sure students are being charged the correct tuition rate. Students outside of the state and country must pay out-of-state tuition.

All 242 students are being charged the out-of-state rate, the committee chairman, Regent Jim Jolly, said when he presented the numbers.

Georgia Perimeter College reportedly has about 100 undocumented students enrolled, according to spokesperson Beverly James. That figure was not divided up by campus.

In the university system, 26 institutions have completed checks on all students. The rest will submit a final report before the regents' October meeting.

"While we are still awaiting reports on returning students from a few institutions, if the trends continue, we do not expect to see any significant change in the final percentage of undocumented students enrolled in the university system," Jolly said.

The regents committee focused on charging correct tuition, though many Georgia residents are debating whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend state colleges at all. During the summer, several members of the committee discussed the same concerns but left it out of the final mission of the group.

Some lawmakers promise to introduce legislation banning illegal immigrants from public colleges. Under current guidelines, federal law doesn't stop illegal immigrants from attending college, and states "must decide for themselves whether or not to admit illegal aliens," according to a 2008 letter by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2008.

Georgia, Arizona and Colorado don't allow colleges to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, 11 states give in-state tuition to the students and South Carolina bans them from public colleges altogether.

"I'm concerned that we can solve this residency verification problem but don't necessarily solve the other large problem about the admission of nonresidents," Regent Felton Jenkins said when the committee met by phone in June.

"That's a big question that somebody needs to answer."


Courtesy of The Gainesville Times. Michelle Kim contributed to this article.