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Florida lawmakers approve in-state tuition rates for undocumented residents

Florida lawmakers narrowly passed a bill that would allow illegal residents to be eligible for in-state college tuition rates. The state Senate committee voted 5-4 to approve the bill, which has been the source of division during this year’s legislative session—even within parties. 

Republican lawmakers have divergent views on the legislation. Some argue that it is not fair to punish children whose parents brought them into the state illegally. Others believe that the bill, which would allow high school graduates who have lived in the state for three years to have in-state tuition rates, will encourage illegal immigration to the state.

A glance at in-state tuition for undocumented students
17 states offer in-state tuition to students
4 states offer state-aid for undocumented students
2 states have provisions for the Board of Regents to authorize in-state tuition
3 states prohibit in-state tuition for undocumented students
3 states prohibit enrollment of undocumented students

Sen. Jack Latvala, the bill’s sponsor, said that the students who are illegal residents will still suffer, even with in-state tuition rates, because they are not eligible for federal financial aid or state scholarships.

Several Republicans chose to stay out of the debate and were no votes on the issue. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is also a Republican supports the bill because it will impose limits on how much universities can increase tuition. The bill will override previous legislation that linked tuition increases to the rate of inflation.

The bill is currently pending reference review, according to state legislative services. 

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