College is expensive.
It costs even more when you're hit with out-of-state fees.
Margarita Perez and her son Alberto moved from Chicago in September, 2014. She says she knew she had not lived in Arizona long enough to be considered a resident, so she put the out-of-state tuition on her credit card.
The next year she expected their residency status to change. It didn't. So she called Estrella Mountain Community College to find out why.
"She apologized but said my son is going to be considered the whole year next semester out of state and that we have to pay," Margarita explained.
According to its own rules, Maricopa County Community College District says that students are considered in-state once "the person is domiciled in this state for one year preceding the official starting day of the semester."
Margarita says she met that requirement. She appealed. She was denied.
"Two times I wrote the appeal, a letter for appeal and they didn't want to help me," she said. "And that's when I decided to call ABC15 Let Joe Know."
Vounteer Grant with Assistance League of Phoenix took over. Connecting Margarita with the right people.
"They gave me an appointment the same day," she said.
She says after showing the department director proof of her residency things changed.
"Not only did he remove the $881, he even told us that my son is going to receive a check by mail like $500 dollars." Margarita says that money was for reimbursement for fees they had already paid.
And her son is officially an Arizona resident.
"I was very, very happy. I wanted to start crying," she said.
A spokesperson for MCCCD released a statement saying in part: "while we cannot comment on this specific student record, we encourage any student who has questions about their enrollment or financial aid status to contact their college's Enrollment Center staff. Helping students enroll in classes and navigate financial aid policies is our priority."
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