Few recent issues in higher education have been as contentious as that of legislation extending in-state college tuition benefits to undocumented students, initiatives now known as in-state resident tuition (ISRT) policies. Building on several strands of literature in political science and higher education studies, we analyze the effects of demographic, economic, political, and policy conditions on the likelihood of these initiatives becoming positioned for legislative action during the period 1999-2007. In particular, we develop and test a theoretical framework distilled from research on "descriptive and substantive representation" in U.S. politics. Our event history analysis finds that the percentage of female legislators (an indicator of descriptive representation), the percentage of the population that is foreign born, the level of unemployment, and the type of higher education governance in a state are associated with the likelihood of an ISRT initiative achieving the legislative agenda. To conclude, we explore several conceptual and policy implications of our findings.
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