The majority of USF students who graduated from high school in Florida have the ability to pay in-state tuition.
However, students who graduated from Florida high schools but whose parents immigrated to the country illegally are not eligible for in-state tuition because they are viewed as international students for tuition purposes by the university.
Earlier this month, a resolution “for a Policy of In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students” passed through Student Government and is now pending approval from the Board of Trustees.
Now, some student organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society , the Latin American Student Association and the Mexican American Student Association have created a campaign called “Bulls for Tuition Equity” and are circulating an online petition to rally student support.
The petition currently has more than 100 student signatures.
The movement came about at USF after Florida International University passed a similar policy earlier this year, Veronica Antonio Juarez, a junior majoring in biomedical science and an undocumented student who faced the international student tuition rate herself, said.
“Students should be able to come to the university without having to worry about fees,” she said. “I am a U.S. citizen and went to a public high school in Florida, but I still had to pay international fees because I was not born in America.”
Tuition for international students can cost students more than three times as much as in-state tuition.
Many students who have visas pending and have resided in Florida for a year are still unable to receive in-state tuition, Antonio Juarez said.
Gage Lacharite, president of SDS, said this movement for tuition equality is not limited to USF.
“We have multiple chapters of SDS around Florida,” Lacharite said. “There is a similar movement at UF, as well as other universities nationally … If this does not pass through the Board of Trustees, then we want to pass a referendum to at least voice the support of the students who are in favor of tuition equality.”
So far, 18 states have adopted this policy of granting in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.
“Florida has the fifth highest number of undocumented students, and that is why we want to gather support and petition in favor of this,” Lacharite said. “We want to show that the USF student body supports tuition equality and really wants it.”