Desk and chairs in classroomWhen most people think of incentives that induce foreign migrants to violate U.S. immigration law, they think of jobs. There is no doubt that employment is the biggest factor drawing illegal aliens into the United States. But as the recent waves of unaccompanied alien minors flooding the border have shown, a free public education is also a key attractor. And as more and more states begin providing in-state college tuition to illegal aliens, a relatively affordable post-secondary education will also become a significant draw.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states now offer in-state tuition to some or all illegal alien students. Leading the way, California not only provides illegals with in-state tuition, it also has a special student loan program that is only open to illegal aliens.

Why would anyone want to endure the down-sides of being an illegal alien for discount college tuition? It’s a simple process of balancing risk against reward.

In terms of risk, there are increasingly fewer negatives to being an immigration violator. At least twelve states and the District of Columbia give drivers licenses to out-of-status aliens. Hundreds of sanctuary cities have sprung up across the nation.  And, as USA Today reported in 2012, there are growing numbers of educated illegal aliens earning significant wages by working as independent contractors. (This doesn’t render them legal, but employers aren’t obligated to verify that independent contractors have work authorization.)

In terms of reward: 18 of the world’s top 25 universities are American.  And people holding a U.S. college degree have an edge in an increasingly global job market. University Language Services, a company that assists international students with college applications states, “In the international marketplace, an American college degree is literally a valuable commodity.”

No lines, no waiting, a degree and a job; all at the expense of the American taxpayer. The U.S. is using its public university systems to make an offer that much of the world can’t refuse.