Undocumented students fight for in-state tuition

By Matt Galka, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Apr 28 2014 04:38:57 PM EDT

The House will unveil a six-percent tuition hike proposal in Tallahassee.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A two month battle over whether colleges and universities should grant in-state tuition to undocumented students is down to its final week, and the bills supporters believe they’ve found a way to make it happen.

The Senate is expected to hear the amendment in the next two days, but with the session ending Friday, time is not on the Dreamers side.

DREAM University is a group of undocumented students started their “school” at the Capitol in support of stalled legislation that would grant in-state tuition to college kids illegally. Veronica Perez, an undocumented Hillsborough County student, has been studying for her college finals on the Capitol's fourth floor.

“We still want to continue our studies so we started this DREAM University," Perez said. "So we’ve been teaching classes every day to show them we still want to work here."

Undocumented students from around the state of Florida said they’ll be at the Capitol every day until session ends to try and convince lawmakers to reconsider the bill.

“We’re putting pressure on it," Perez said. "Right now we have around 30 people. More people are going to join us today as well as tomorrow.”

A new proposal could bring the measure back to life. A pending amendment would grant in-state tuition to students who were born in the U.S., but had parents living here illegally. Students who are illegal would compete for out-of-state tuition waivers.

Senate sponsor Jack Latvala met with the dreamers to thank them for their support. He said he firmly believes this last effort will make it through the chamber.

“I think we got the votes," Latvala said. "I feel like we’re going to be successful.”

The amendment also prevents every university except for Florida State and the University of Florida from raising tuition without lawmakers approval.

FSU and UF would still be allowed to raise tuition by up to 6 percent a year. The governor has gone to bat for the legislation and has said reducing tuition is a top priority.

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