The Florida House has taken a compassionate step forward by approving a bill that would grant in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants, provided the students meet certain conditions.
At the urging of House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel, the House voted overwhelmingly Thursday for passage. Now it’s up to the Senate to overcome opposition and pass a similar bill by Sen. Jack Latvala, a Republican from Clearwater, that will put these students on equal footing with their classmates. Current law prohibits the children of undocumented immigrants from getting the cheaper tuition rate.
We think it’s in Florida’s best interest to eliminate a financial obstacle that might keep these students from reaching their full potential. The children shouldn’t be punished for their parents’ choices, and the families have contributed to the state by paying sales taxes and gasoline taxes.
The House bill would grant the cheaper tuition rates to students who attend a middle or high school for four consecutive years, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, before attending college. It would also reduce the cap on annual tuition hikes that universities can impose without legislative approval, dropping it from 15 percent to 6 percent. The Senate bill has differences, including the elimination of the discretionary tuition hike by universities, rather than a drop in the cap level. But it still grants in-state tuition rates to students meeting certain conditions.
Gov. Rick Scott has signaled a willingness to sign a tuition bill, provided it eliminates the discretionary hike by universities.
The Senate should pass a bill that gives these students the academic opportunities they have earned.