This past June, Florida International University (FIU) in Miami began offering in-state tuition for undocumented students that qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which passed last year.
During the spring semester at FIU, as well as the 11 other state universities in Florida, undocumented immigrants who had lived in Florida for the majority of their lives had to apply as international students and pay out-of-state tuition. In-state tuition costs about $6,000 on average. Out-of-state tuition costs about $20,000 on average. That’s 3.33 times the cost for a semester of school.
All of this, while education in Florida is funded primarily by sales-tax revenue and property-tax revenue, according to the Florida Education Finance Program , meaning that undocumented immigrants often pay this tax. This is simply unfair. Tuition equity has already been adopted in 15 states, and among the states with the largest amount of potential DACA beneficiaries (California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida) — Florida has not passed laws like this.
On Nov. 12, USF Student Government followed the example that FIU set and passed a resolution in support of adopting this policy at USF, guaranteeing that there will be a vote on this at the Board of Trustees meeting in February. This is the time for the students of USF to take action. We can’t idly sit by and expect the Board of Trustees, an organization that for the past few years has voted to raise tuition along with the salaries and size of the USF bureaucracy, to do what we demand.
If we, as students of the USF, want to be taken seriously as a school that celebrates diversity, achievement and our ties to the surrounding community, we need to do what the collective state has failed to do: Demand in-state tuition for all Floridians, documented or not.
Gage Lacharite is a sophomore majoring in computer science and member of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society.