College tuition in Florida is already among the least expensive in the country. And it’s lowest for Florida residents who attend state colleges. But some residents are being charged the out-of-state rate.
Florida is the only state known as a “receiver state” for immigrant families that does not offer in-state tuition to U.S.-born students with undocumented parents.
Caroline, who requested we only use her first name because her father is undocumented, got a full scholarship to cover the in-state fees at Miami Dade College. But three weeks before the start of school, she learned she has to pay the out-of-state rate.
One class at Miami Dade College costs $315 for in-state students. Its $950 for out-of-state students. That’s three times more expensive because Caroline’s dad is not a legal Florida resident. And in Florida, college tuition is based on a parent’s residency for unmarried students under age 25.
“And I’m a citizen, I’m a resident, I was born here. I’ve been going to Miami-Dade schools my entire life and now all of a sudden I’m considered out-of-state.
“But I don’t think that’s fair, it’s not my father going to school it’s me. Now I have to I have to claim myself as an independent, work for a year and make more than $11,000 to get the scholarship and start school.”
Now, Caroline has to take a year off in order to work full-time to meet the income requirements of an independent student.
In 2006, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush supported giving students of undocumented parents a waiver for in-state tuition.
At the time, opponents argued granting the waivers would have cost the state more than $6 million a year. The legislation didn’t pass.
California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington are the only states that offer in-state tuition to students with undocumented parents.