The administrators said it may be weeks before they confirm which students are truly illegal. Most campuses report they are sending students letters, although some are contacting students by telephone to notify them of the tuition hikes.
Among the CSU campuses, Cal State Los Angeles is widely believed to have the largest number of students receiving warnings--more than 500 were mailed letters several weeks ago. The number of applicants affected there could not be determined because campus administrators refused to comment.
The Northridge campus has the next largest number, with 205 students and 177 applicants mailed letters last week.
Close behind are Long Beach, which expects to send letters to about 100 students and 200 applicants, and Dominguez Hills, which notified about 150 students and 120 applicants, campus officials said.
"Our hope is that when students get the letters, they will be able to provide the documentation" to prove their legal residency, said Margaret Fieweger, CSUN's associate vice president for undergraduate studies.
The letter sent to Northridge students states: "All new and continuing students whose status with the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service is 'undocumented' will be considered non-residents for tuition purposes beginning with the fall, 1995, semester.
"We at California State University, Northridge, regret that this court decision may impose additional costs on some of our students. We are, however, hopeful that you will be able to provide the documentation necessary to retain California residency."
Many administrators expressed sympathy for the affected students, and efforts are under way at several campuses to raise private scholarship funds that could help undocumented students.
Undocumented students have not been eligible for various federal and state financial aid programs. But under the court ruling, undocumented Cal State students also will lose access to the system's grants programs, which subsidized tuition.
Several campus officials--educators at heart--said the new policy is presenting them with a moral conflict.
"I do not enjoy having to reclassify these students. I think it's misplaced energy in my personal opinion," said Gloria Kapp, director of admissions and financial aid at Cal State Long Beach. "But I also don't enjoy breaking the law, so I have to do it."
So far, neither the Bakersfield nor the Fullerton campus has been able to cull the names of allegedly illegal students, citing problems with the way their computer records have been kept.
Fullerton's Blackburn said that he could only derive that information by hand-searching the individual microfilm files of the school's 22,000 students--a task he said his limited staff cannot accomplish.
Bentley-Adler, the Cal State spokeswoman, conceded that the record problem creates a discrepancy and a fairness problem. But, she added, "We're trying to comply as best as we can. There may be some inequities in the system. But eventually it's going to work itself out."
For the six Cal State campuses on the quarter system--including Los Angeles, Pomona, San Bernardino and Bakersfield--the higher tuition rate took effect last week with the start of the spring quarter. For the 15 other campuses, including Northridge, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach and Fullerton, the higher tuition will begin with the start of the fall semester.
In yet another inconsistency, Cal State's enforcement policy is tougher on current students than newcomers. Although enrolled students considered undocumented must now prove their legal status to pay the lower rate, new students who claim legal residency generally are not being forced to do the same.
Opponents of the new policy unsuccessfully asked Cal State to follow the UC system's approach, which grandfathered in existing, undocumented students and only charged new enrollees the higher tuition rate. But the language of the legal case that spawned UC's policy permitted that while the Cal State ruling does not, Cal State officials said.
Immigrants' advocates say the new policy leaves students with few options.
Despite their relatively modest tuitions, community colleges do not grant bachelor's degrees. And seeking to gain permanent residence status has its own set of problems, including the risk of deportation if the bid is lost.
Even non-legal students who manage to win permanent residency would have to wait one year before regaining their eligibility for the lower tuition rate, said Lee O'Connor, a legal aid attorney who specializes in immigration law.
"I feel sorry for these kids," O'Connor said. "They're the ones who have overcome all the odds trying to make something of themselves. And now they're being deprived of that option and future."