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Florida Grants In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students

Supporters of an immigrant tuition bill react to passage of the bill in the Florida Senate, Thursday, May 1, 2014. The group wore orange mortarboards to show their support. The bill will allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities. Florida Governor Scott supports the bill which was being championed in the Senate by Senator Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater.

CREDIT: AP/The Tampa Bay Times, Scott Keeler.

When considering Florida’s legislative history toward immigrants, particularly DREAMers, last week’s vote to pass H.B. 851 was a dream come true after a decade of organizing and lobbying.

Governor Rick Scott (R) has pledged to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

The bill comes at a time when access to higher education has been limited for immigrant communities. Scott has opposed DREAM Act legislation up until this year. Three years ago, US citizens were being denied in-state tuition due to their parents’ status, which was eventually determined unconstitutional by a judge.

“Higher education administrators will need to respond accordingly. Enrollments may increase, and that is a positive. There will be some loss in tuition dollars but not enough to make a negative impact. Access will be easier and increased,” Dr. Larry Lunsford, Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida International University said. “For institutions, diversity will increase, which is a positive. Higher education should be open to anyone who seeks it.”

In addition, to the ways in which colleges and universities will benefit from a diverse learning environment, HB 851 is advantageous for the state.

“The benefit to the state is that we will have a more educated populace,” said Lunsford. “The door is now open to individuals who eventually can make a difference in many different areas in society,” said Lunsford.

Jude Paul Dizon is a reporter with Generation Progress.

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