The Student Government (SG) Senate took an important step in passing a resolution Tuesday evening that will advocate for the university to adopt a policy allowing students that have at least graduated from a Florida high school or have attended USF for at least 12 months and are the children of immigrants illegally living in the U.S. to pay in-state tuition instead of the current out-of-state rate.
Should the Board of Trustees pass this resolution, it will follow in the steps of Florida International University (FIU) and become the second university in the state, and one of the first few in the country, to take a stand on an issue debated across the nation.
In 2010, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act failed to pass the U.S. Senate. Since then, the only real legislation passed, including at the state level, has been President Barack Obama’s order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) last year, granting some protection to certain children of immigrants who have not yet gained full legal status.
On average, out-of-state students pay approximately three times as much as Florida residents for tuition. According to an article in the Sun Sentinel, at least 12 states have passed similar policies for students to receive in-state tuition, and universities across the state are considering adopting policies like FIU’s, including the University of Florida.
Students who have spent much of their lives in Florida and qualify to attend a top research university in the state should not have to pay triple the price of other students because of the actions of their parents.
It is unfair to compare the plight of students living in the country with their families without documentation to students attending the university from another state.
Students from families who have immigrated to the country illegally, many in hopes of bettering their lives, often overcome much greater hardships to attain a high school diploma and reach the point of college admission and should not be penalized for a decision they had no part in making.
It is not a reward to grant these students in-state tuition; it is simply putting them on the same level as all the other students in the state.
Should the BOT approve SG’s resolution, a minority group of students will be given an equal opportunity to attain higher education — a dream the nation was founded on and likely one their parents, as well as immigrants from across the world, both legal and illegal, come to the country to seek after.
The university may not receive the higher tuition from the student, but it will receive so much more — a diverse population of students, reflective of the face of a changing population.