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In-State-Tuition Bill Fails to Pass in Florida Senate

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The Florida Senate Judiciary committee voted against a bill that would have allowed immigrant students who meet certain requirements to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida public colleges and universities. According to The Miami Herald, state Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), who filed the bill, said at the hearing that “SB 106 would make higher education more accessible for undocumented immigrant students who are interested in attending one of Florida’s post secondary education institutions.” A Senate analysis of the bill had showed that there would have been no fiscal impact on taxes or fees if the bill would have become law, yet there was a broader discrepancy as to who would qualify for the exemption, that is the main reason why the senate did not approve of the bill becoming state law. State Senator David Simmon (R-Altamonte Springs) said that he voted against the bill because of the possibility of “requiring [the state of Florida] to give residency status to students from other states.” Yet the intent of the law would have been to afford undocumented individuals who are already Florida residents to be able to receive higher education as residents, not to give this privilege to people who were not Florida residents to begin with. The Board of Governors of the State University System has noted that an undocumented student enrolled in as a non-resident student will generate an estimated $25,233 annually, while the same student, if classified as resident, will only generate an estimated $5,363 annually.” But this excuse to not pass the law is one that is based on opportunistic and unfair grounds since it basically takes advantage of individuals who are legitimate Florida residents and penalizes them because they do not have their immigration papers in order. As the Florida Immigrant Coalition said, SB 106 would have allowed thousands of Floridians who are born or raised in the State of Florida to pay in-state tuition in order to enroll in colleges or universities. Currently, approximately 192,000 undocumented students and other many U.S. born Floridians whose parents are undocumented, absent or incarcerated, are forced to pay out-of-state tuition which is three or four times higher, only because they can’t provide Florida residency documents of their parents as required by current state laws. With the news of this bill’s failure to pass, the hopes of countless young Floridians fizzled out. There are currently very few pieces of legislation that are worth fighting for, and this is one of the very few. Let’s hope this bill becomes law in the near future so as to help individuals in our state have access to an affordable education that would help unleash their true potential.

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