Florida to consider extending in-state tuition to illegal immigrants

CREATED Jan. 20, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University students are joining the fight to get in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Last month, New Jersey became the 17th state to extend in-state tuition to certain undocumented students. According to the National Immigration Center, six more states--including Florida--will consider the in-state tuition bill this year.

"They deserve an education just like us and it's our priority and our responsibility to help them get that," Juan Cubillo, FGCU Student Body President, said.

Under Florida Law, undocumented students who want to attend a Florida university have to pay out-of-state tuition, which can run as high as four times the costs of in-state tuition. 
 
Some Florida lawmakers have been trying unsuccessfully to change the law since 2003, but this year could be different. Republican Speaker of the House Will Weatherford supports the bill. He told the Miami Herald, "The federal government requires us to educate all children in the state of Florida, regardless of their immigration status. But when some of those children get to college, we pretend they are no longer Floridians."
 
It gives us hope," Cubillo said. "Knowing we have support from both parties tells us it has strong support and a strong chance of going somewhere this year."
 
According to Educators for Fair Consideration, out of the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year, only 5-10% go to college.
 
"If we invest in these students and they have the same opportunity that you and I have they will be a great investment to our state of Florida," Cubillio said.
 
Cubillo plans to take 100 students with him to Tallahassee in March to speak to lawmakers about the bill.