The long-term residency of millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom came here as children with their families, provokes an ambivalence in American voters and politicians that’s unmatched by any other issue.

The governing board of North Carolina’s community college system, the third largest in the country, has changed its rules on the admission of undocumented students four times in the last nine years. On Friday, the board board reversed itself yet again, overturning a 16-month-old policy that had barred such students from its campuses.

The victory for such students is a limited one, however. Under the new regulations, only those who have graduated from an American high school will be eligible to enroll. They will also be required to pay tuition at out-of-state rates — more than $7,000 a year  — and will be ineligible for financial aid.

The policy, which will face a final vote in the state’s General Assembly next spring, is intended to bring CC admissions procedures in line with those of the UNC system, which recently adopted a similar approach.

Nine states have passed laws allowing undocumented students to enroll in their public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates, while only three have explicitly banned such eligibility by statute. According to Inside Higher Ed, this policy change would leave South Carolina as the only state that bars such students from higher education completely.

Policies on undocumented students are attracting new attention this fall as the DREAM Act — a federal law that would allow some undocumented immigrants to establish permanent legal residency by completing college coursework — moves forward in the US Congress.