From Jacksonville to Gainesville, veterans and students without legal documentation are campaigning for tuition reform.
Both groups pay out-of-state tuition under the current policy. Multiple organizations and student groups are protesting and pushing for reform that would allow these students to pay in-state tuition.
Florida State University is taking its veterans’ campaign to the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, where the proposed bill will be presented.
The bill would allow veterans who have been honorably discharged to pay in-state tuition. Last year, the same bill passed through the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate. Campaigners are hoping they have a better chance at seeing the bill pass this year because of the attention it’s received.
“With a college education enticing veterans to stay in the state of Florida and bringing their talents and skills to the work force, will contribute economically to Florida’s future,” said FSU Veterans Center director Billy Francis. “We support this because it’s the right thing to do.”
UF Students for a Democratic Society and CHISPAS UF are also protesting out-of-state tuition, in their case for undocumented students.
University of Florida student Mariana Castro, a Florida resident without legal documentation, would benefit from the proposed policy change.
In high school, Castro graduated at the top of her class. She was granted a Bright Futures scholarship, but the state took it away after she applied to college without legal documents.
“I am being discriminated against,” she said. “I worked just as hard as every other student that has gotten into UF to be here.”
Because Castro and her family pay out-of-state tuition, she cannot afford to be a full-time student. Having no financial aid or grants available to her, Castro takes only the classes she can afford. She thought that by completing the International Baccalaureate program in high school, she would be ahead in college. However, state laws have made it impossible for her to graduate on time.
“Now, essentially, I’m behind, which has made this outcome even harder on me,” she said.
UF Students for a Democratic Society and CHISPAS UF are hoping to put this issue on the discussion board for the Board of Trustees meeting in December.