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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Attorney General Mark Herring is telling Virginia colleges that they can grant in-state tuition to thousands of students who were previously considered ineligible because of their immigration status.

The policy change, announced Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College, is a change from the Democrat's Republican predecessors.

In the past, the attorney general's office had advised that students who entered the country illegally were barred from receiving in-state tuition, even if they were children when they immigrated.

Herring says students can qualify for the reduced tuition under a special immigration status created by the Obama administration for certain young people brought to the country as children.

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READ THE RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: http://bit.ly/1haKac3

Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement:

"As I said throughout my campaign, I believe that Virginia children who were brought here at a young age, grew up here, and have stayed out of trouble, should absolutely have access to the same educational opportunities as everyone else. To grow a 21st Century economy, Virginia needs to be open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home, and I am encouraged to see progress being made in this area during my administration.

"I fully support the Attorney General's opinion that those students who have been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals qualify for in-state tuition, and I am committed to ensuring that this becomes a reality during my administration. I will work diligently with SCHEV, VCCS, and college and university presidents to further review this policy and make sure that all Virginia students have access to our quality education system."

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