Two-color bills in Florida could affect tuition fees for undocumented students


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Two Florida House of Commons bills target undocumented immigrant students and their ability to afford college education – one would make university tuition more accessible to stateless students, while the other could make higher education too expensive for them.

House Bill 923 filed February 10 by Democratic MP Marie Paule Woodson, whose county includes parts of Broward County. Woodson’s law would amend Florida’s statutes so that undocumented students attending high schools in Florida would be eligible for state financial aid at state colleges and universities.

Currently, under the 2014 law, undocumented students who attend high school in Florida for three consecutive years before graduating qualify for a waiver of out-of-state education, meaning they can pay the same tuition fees as Florida residents. Out-of-state schooling rate in Florida public schools it may be three or four times the rate paid by the inhabitants of the state.

But that law, Florida Statute 1009.26, excludes undocumented students from receiving state aid for which residents qualify. For example, undocumented students cannot apply Florida Bright Futures, popular merit-based scholarships funded by the state lottery system.

House Bill 923 aims to remove this exclusion and provide immigrant students with the opportunity to apply for state scholarships.

Woodson’s bill could potentially strengthen Florida’s economy by providing all students who live here and work with the same opportunities to advance in education, says Ted Hutchinson, Florida director of the migration promotion advocacy group FWD.us.

“We’re talking about students who have lived here and we’ve already invested in them,” Hutchinson says. “This equates the conditions for our neighbors and friends who are, for all purposes and purposes, Americans.”

New Times failed to contact Woodson for comment.

Florida lawmakers are also considering a law sponsored by Republican Republic Rendy Fine of Brevard County that would repeal a portion of Statute 1009.26 that benefits undocumented students. His Home account 6037, filed this January, will explicitly require them to pay tuition outside the state, making Woodson’s bill controversial.

“I don’t think I’m passing [Statute 1009.26] it was a good idea, ”says Fine New Times.

Fine says that while the state wants to cut costs to reduce the economic tax on COVID-19, it would rather settle subsidies for “foreign students” – undocumented students in Florida – than cut services for “duly legal Florida residents.” . “

As Fine sees it, the state subsidizes waiver of out-of-state tuition for undocumented students because tuition in the state is lower than the actual cost of student education.

According to the Florida Board of Directors, which manages the state university system, the total waiver of out-of-state tuition for non-Florida residents was $ 22,320,620 for the 2019-20 school year. Almost all of that – $ 19,159,263 – was given up by non-US residents.

Hutchinson, an immigration advocate with FWD.us, argues that waiving tuition does not cost the state because the tuition that students pay is an income that universities would not otherwise have.

“People try to think of this as a free reward, but they don’t get free tuition. The school doesn’t get paid at all if students don’t attend,” Hutchinson said..

Without giving up outside the state, Florida International University (FIU) senior and Delayed action for childhood visits Recipient (DACA) Ivan Vazquez says he could not afford college. Vazquez came to America from Mexico at age 13 and attended the first two years of college in Central Florida, where he paid for classes by working as a chef.

“With the cost of studying outside the state, I could never even dream of going to college. It would be so harmful, I couldn’t afford it,” he says.

Vazquez pays for tuition at the FIU with a scholarship from TheDream.US, which is intended for financially needy DACA recipients. One of the conditions for a scholarship is that students have the right to school in the state in their school of their choice. Without giving up outside the state, TheDream.US scientists in Florida may no longer be eligible for the scholarship.

Asked about the possible path of DACA recipients, Fine suggested that they return to their country of origin to complete their education.

“I feel terrible towards children because of the position their parents put them in, but the state didn’t put them in that position,” Fine says. “I can probably get tuition in the state they’re from.”

Fine also claims that because of their legal status, these students “are not Americans and that the benefits should go to” legal “Florida”.

For undocumented students like Jensy Matute Guifarro, who recently graduated from FIU, Fine’s argument is misinformed and a blow to people like her living in a state between national identities.

“We came here for a reason. If our parents wanted us to go to school in our own country, we wouldn’t be here,” Matute says.

Matute, 22, came to Florida from Honduras when she was 2 years old. She is a recipient of DACA who only went to schools in the US and says she would not know how to adapt to schools in Honduras.

“It’s sad because you’re in this limbo state where you weren’t born here, but you didn’t grow up there. You can’t claim any of them,” she says.

Fine’s account is in the House Post-Secondary Education I Subcommittee on Lifelong Learning. Woodson’s account is awaiting board assignment.

Across the U.S., Florida has one of the highest estimates of undocumented immigrants in higher education. Of the estimated 454,000 undocumented students in post-secondary education nationwide, 15 percent live in Florida and make up about 3 percent of the state’s higher education student population, according to the Florida College Access Network.

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