by Philip Kellerman, Harvest of Hope Foundation
There is a growing movement in Florida to advocate for in- state tuition for foreign-born students who have graduated from Florida high schools and meet Florida residency requirements.
At Santa Fe College in Gainesville, for example, a three-credit course at an in-state tuition rate costs $307 versus $1,144.80 out-of-state. That is a 268 percent increase, making college unaffordable for these students. I, along with immigrant advocates, have met with the president of Santa Fe College, but the college and the University of Florida refuse to offer in-state tuition claiming erroneously that federal and state laws prohibit them from doing so.
Only two public colleges in Florida (Miami Dade and FIU) currently offer out-of-state tuition waivers (basically in-state tuition) to some of these students who have obtained DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) cards allowing them to legally work and not fear deportation.
This is an educational and economic issue of importance to Florida.
As the editorial from the Gainesville Sun said so well, “Letting DACA students pay in-state rates improves the chances that they’ll earn degrees and get quality jobs that increase their economic contribution to the state.”
Here is where you can help. If you would like to receive postcards to send to state and house legislators in support of this important issue, please contact me at 352-262-5421 or philkellerman77@ gmail.com, and provide your mailing address.
You can contact legislators at www.flsenate.gov. Click on Senators and link for Find Your Senators.
For Representatives, go to www.myfloridahouse.gov. Click on Representatives and link for Find Your Representatives.
Many of our foreign-born students who have lived in Florida for years are bright, hard-working individuals who are sitting on the sidelines simply because Florida will not follow in the footsteps of 16 other states in providing more affordable in-state tuition rates. In the upcoming Florida legislative session, two bills (HB 205 and SB 300) support in-state rates.