The immigration status of Maryland students will no longer be an obstacle to them receiving lower tuition rates available to other in-state residents, after 59 percent of voters approved a referendum Nov. 6.

The Maryland Catholic Conference and other church leaders were among supporters of the law, likened to the federal DREAM Act, which has languished in Congress.

The law will require students to first obtain an associate’s degree or at least 60 hours of credit at a community college before they are eligible for the in-state tuition rate at a four-year state university. It will extend to Maryland residents who lack legal immigration status, and who meet other requirements, the same reduced rate available to other Marylanders. At the University of Maryland in College Park, for example, full-time in-state undergraduates pay about $4,400 a semester, while the out-of-state rate is about $13,600 a semester.