Undocumented Students Demand In-State Tuition At UF
GAINESVILLE - Education can open many doors but when it comes with a hefty price tag it's not always accessible. Undocumented immigrants growing up in here in Florida are struggling with just that. Students are putting pressure on the university's administration to allow qualifying students to pay in-state tuition for their education.
Even if these students were raised in the United States and attended high school here in Florida for four years as undocumented immigrants they still have to pay out-of-state tuition. Something these students say is unfair to them when it comes to the cost of a higher education.
After leading a successful high school career, Mariana Castro was accepted at the University of Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Castro said, "I graduated top of my class, I had a 4.1 GPA, I was awarded the IB diploma."
However as an undocumented student, Castro is required to pay out-of-state tuition. "I am currently only taking one class just because I have to pay everything out of pocket and out of state tuition is triple the amount of in-state and without any help it becomes really difficult to afford the education," Castro said.
Let’s talk annual costs here at UF. In-state tuition is about $6,000. Out of state tuition, is roughly $28,000. Meaning undocumented students pay over four times the amount than Florida residents.
Jose Velasquez a UF Chemical Engineering major said, "It's really unfair... I went to elementary school, middle school, high school here... I feel American. I know this country's history not my country's history. And I deserve it just like my other peers."
State senators paid a visit to UF to speak to students and the community about education. The event was organized by Gators for Tuition Equity, and is an initiative to bring in state-tuition to qualifying undocumented students seeking a college degree.
Darren Soto a Florida State Senator said, "We as Floridians have already invested in them all the way through grade school and high school and now we're going to slap them with out of state tuition... It not only doesn't make sense but it stops them from pursuing the American dream."
Not everyone likes the idea. During the event people were allowed to express their thoughts on paper. One comment read quote, "these undocumented got free public education, but that's not enough?"
State Senator Dwight Bullard thinks otherwise. "In-state tuition is absolutely important because it's the fundamental right thing to do, not only for the students of the University of Florida but for the state as a whole. We need to be all inclusive and if we want to move together and grow together... Both economically and morally, we have to get this right," Bullard said.
Senator Bullard says there are more elected members of the Florida legislature who are graduates of UF than any other school in Florida. This is why he believes if UF passes in-state tuition it can create a trickle effect for schools all across the state.
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