Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Senate Takes Up Tuition Measure

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Senate Takes Up Tuition Measure

Article excerpt

IMMIGRATION: Bill would allow in-state rates for some in country illegally

TALLAHASSEE

With Florida's legislative session winding down, the Senate took up a bill that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities.

The controversial proposal nearly didn't make it to the Senate at all, and faced tough questioning from lawmakers, including Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice. But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, succeeded in amending the bill and the measure has wider support among Florida Republicans than ever before.

A bill to grant in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who came to Florida as children has already passed the House and the issue was recently taken up by Gov. Rick Scott after provisions to hold down tuition at state universities were added.

The wider impact on tuition was highlighted by Latvala when he brought up the bill Wednesday. "This bill reduces it for everyone," he said.

Under the amended bill, universities would be blocked from asking the Florida Board of Governors for 15 percent increases each year without legislative approval.

The University of Florida and Florida State University could still request tuition hikes, but those would be capped at 6 percent a year and approved only if the universities met certain standards, such as increased graduation rates or research spending.

In Wednesday's debate, it was the issue of undocumented students that senators criticized.

That part of the bill would allow students who attend Florida high schools for at least three years before graduating to get the far-cheaper in-state tuition rates, no matter their immigration status.

As an example of a student who would be helped by the policy, Latvala described a 26-year-old pharmacy student in Jacksonville, who came to the U.S. with his parents when he was only 1. …

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