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Gov. Rick Scott Signs In State Tuition For Immigrants, Kicks Off College Affordability Tour

Ashley Lopez

Gov. Rick Scott made a stop in Fort Myers Monday to talk about his efforts to make college cheaper. He also kicked off his ‘College Affordability Tour’ the same day he signed a bill expanding in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.

Scott signed the bill just hours before he stopped by a Beef O’Bradys next to Florida Gulf Coast University to talk about tuition. Although it was hardly mentioned during the event, the bill grants in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants who attended high school in Florida. The bill was a top priority for the legislature’s Hispanic caucus. It also ends automatic tuition hikes passed during the recession. Scott said the bill is part of his effort to make college cheaper for everyone.

“I want students that grow up in our state to have the same chance to live the American dream that we all have for ourselves and our kids,” he said. “And so, if you grew up in our state, you are going to have in state tuition just like your peers are going to have. And you know that your tuition is not going to go up every year.”

The bill also grants in-state tuition to members of the military who are honorably discharged and reduces the cost of Florida Prepaid. House Speaker Will Weatherford made an appearance at Scott’s event. He told a small crowd that toward the end of this past legislative session it was unclear the bill would pass.

“There was a moment when we weren’t sure if this bill was going to pass,” he said. “There was a moment we weren’t sure we would be able to take the prepaid contract from $53,000 down to $40,000, if not below that. We didn’t know if it would work. But Governor Scott—I saw the look in his eyes—he was not going to let the session end without this bill passing.”

FGCU spokeswoman Susan Evans said the bill does not affect the university because officials had already decided not to raise tuition this year.