Fox's Carlson Falsely Claims 35% Of CA Students Paying In-State Tuition “Were Illegals”

On The O'Reilly Factor, Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that “about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students” at University of California schools “were illegals.” In fact, only 0.34 percent of undergraduates in the University of California system in the fall of 2008 were “potentially undocumented” students who received the in-state tuition rate.*

Carlson Inflates Proportion Of Undocumented Immigrants Receiving Discount; Graphic Falsely Suggests “Free Tuition for Illegals”

Carlson: “In 2009, About 35 Percent Of The In-State Tuition People Or Students Were Illegals.” From the June 9 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

CARLSON: So, at University of California schools -- just to get this in.

O'REILLY: Right.

CARLSON: In 2009, about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students were illegals.

O'REILLY: Really? That's an interesting stat, Carlson. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/9/11]

On-Screen Graphic Uses Loaded Term “Illegals,” Falsely Suggests They Receive “Free Tuition.” From The O'Reilly Factor:

[Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/9/11]

In Fact, Undocumented Immigrants Account For Less Than 1 Percent Of UC Undergraduates Paying In-State Rates

To Normally Qualify For Residency And In-State Rate, UC Students “Must Be A U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, Other Immigrant, Or Eligible Alien.” From the University of California Los Angeles website:

To establish California residence, an adult student at least 18 years of age must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, other immigrant, or eligible alien who meets all of the following requirements:

  • has been physically present in the state for 366 days prior to the residence determination date (RDD) of the term for which he or she wishes to be considered a resident
  • has the intent to make California his or her home (as opposed to coming to California for the purpose of attending school)
  • is financially independent (see note) if his or her parents are not California residents as defined by UC. [, accessed 6/9/11]

University Of California: 2001 Law Exempts Students Who Attended CA High School For At Least Three Years And Graduated From Nonresident Tuition. From the most recent University of California report on the 2001 law, AB 540:

California Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) was signed into law in October 2001 and provides that students meeting all of the following requirements are exempt from paying nonresident tuition at California public colleges and universities:

1. The student attended a high school in California for three or more years.

2. The student graduated from a California high school, received a High School Equivalency Certificate issued by the California State General Education Development (GED) Office, or received a Certificate of Proficiency resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination. Note that, beginning in 2006, graduation from a California public high school requires that students pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

3. The student does not hold any of the following non-immigrant visas: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD and V, and TROV and NATO.

The third provision above limits eligibility to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, students with immigrant visas (including approved petitioners), and students with no legal immigration status (“undocumented” students). AB 540 requires undocumented students who meet the other eligibility requirements to certify they are taking steps to legalize their immigration status or will do so as soon as they are eligible. [University of California, Annual Report on AB 540 Tuition Exemptions 2008-09 Academic Year, 9/21/10]

University Of California Data: In 2008-2009, 554 Undergraduates Who Were Potentially Undocumented Received Discount. According to the University of California, 766 undergraduates were potentially undocumented in the 2008-2009 academic year. Of these, 554 received tuition discounts under AB 540. [University of California, Annual Report on AB 540 Tuition Exemptions 2008-09 Academic Year, 9/21/10]

University of California Data: In Fall 2008, 162,586 Undergraduate UC Students Were California Residents. According to the University of California, 162,586 undergraduate students in Fall 2008 were California residents. The 554 potentially undocumented students account for 0.34 percent of this population. [University of California, Summary of Students and Staff, Fall 2009]

*This sentence was revised for clarity.