The Florida Senate took a major step toward passage of a measure Thursday that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities.
The bill would allow some undocumented immigrants to pay the same lower-cost in-state tuition rates as other students who attended Florida high schools for at least three years. The measure seemed dead after Senate Appropriations chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, refused to allow the bill to come up in committee, but senators voted instead to hear the House version.
Thursday’s vote includes some technical changes that the House still has to approve, but proponents don’t expect that to be a problem as the bill is a top priority for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Collier County resident Nestor Trine was in Tallahassee for the vote. After being brought to Florida from Mexico by his mother 13 years ago, Trine graduated from Immokalee High School in 2007. He’s been working to save money to study computer science ever since, but said high out-of-state tuition costs have kept him from pursing a degree. “It’s definitely frustrating knowing that I could have gone to school right after high school, but I have to take time off because I have to pay a higher tuition rate,” said Trine. “All we want is to pay the same tuition rate that all my classmates that I went to school with pay and just allow me to continue going to school.”
Governor Rick Scott’s office has indicated he’s likely to sign the measure into law if it passes both legislative chambers.
“I hope to start school in the fall so if this bill passes,” said Trine. “It’s definitely going to help me out a lot and it’s going to make it more affordable for me to be a full-time student and not just take a class or two and also I’ll be able to graduate a lot quicker than I would by paying out of state tuition.”