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New students must prove citizenship

By Casey Woodard
On January 31, 2013

The Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act, passed by the Tennessee legislature last October, is in effect for all incoming Spring 2013 students.
The new law requires all incoming students to verify their United States citizenship or lawful presence in the country in order to receive state benefits. This law does not pertain to private tuition assistance or donations, only state benefits like the HOPE Scholarship.
"The intention of the law is to make sure state tax dollars do not go to non-United States citizens," Alexis Pope, director of admissions, said.
Students can meet the requirements for the Eligibility for Entitlements Act by providing ID such as a driver's license or birth certificate or by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year.
"The most popular way is to fill out a FAFSA," Pope said. "Most students who attend meet the requirement by filling out a FAFSA."
If a student prefers not to fill out a FAFSA, he or she can provide a scan of his or her driver's license or other form of identification, to the Admissions department.
"There are no other forms to fill out, just pop your driver's license into a scanner and email it to us," Pope said. "The email address is"
Tennessee law now assumes that all incoming students are from out-of-state until they verify their citizenship or lawful presence in the United States. Incoming students from Tennessee who do not verify their identity will be charged out-of-state tuition until they provide proper identification.
"One girl was refunded $6,000 because she paid out-of-state tuition," Pope said. "She was not eligible for any scholarships because her parents' income was too high, so she did not fill out a FAFSA."
More information about the Eligibility Verification for  Entitlements Act can be found at

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