In-state tuition for D.C. reviewed

The House Government Reform Committee unanimously approved the D.C. College Access Reauthorization Act last Thursday, voting to extend indefinitely the program giving D.C. residents in-state tuition at public universities around the country and grants for private universities in and around Washington.

The program, sponsored by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), began in 1999 and is set to expire at the end of the year if not renewed, according to Robert White, a spokesman for Davis.

Since the program began, more than 6,000 students have taken advantage of the program, according to press release from Norton.

"The extraordinary popularity of the College Access Act in all wards of the city makes the best statement about the value of the law to D.C. residents," Norton said in the release. "The Act has done wonders to help retain taxpayers and to make college possible for many. The return on the federal dollar is incalculable."

A fact sheet about the program explains that the program provides tuition assistance in two ways. First, because D.C. does not have its own public state schools, the program allows residents of D.C. to attend public universities in other states while paying in-state tuition.

"Students can apply to those schools like they're from that state," said Norton's Communications Director Doxie McCoy.

The College Access Act pays the difference, which can be thousands of dollars.

The second type of tuition assistance allows students to apply for a tuition assistance grant for $2,500 to attend private universities in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area. According to Amy Gerber, associate director of AU's financial aid office, 20 undergraduate students from D.C. received the grant this year at AU.

For the bill to pass, it must be voted on by both the House and the Senate and then signed by the president. White said he hoped to get the bill on the floor soon after Congress reconvenes April 19.

"The reception has been pretty good ... we haven't heard of any opposition," McCoy said.

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