Lawmakers, Immigrant Advocates Spar Over Tuition Bill

The bill would ban the state from offering in-state tuition prices to young immigrant living under temporary legal status in the U.S.(Photo: Flickr)
The bill would ban the state from offering in-state tuition prices to young immigrant living under temporary legal status in the U.S.(Photo: Flickr)

The head of the group that oversees Ohio’s colleges recently granted in-state tuition status to Ohio students who have received a special federal designation to attend college in the United States.

But some Ohio lawmakers don’t like that idea , and a bill has been introduced to prevent those students from getting in state tuition rates.

A special federal designation has been given to some students who were brought to the United States as small children, raised here and want to go to college here.

Recently, the Ohio Chancellor who oversees the state’s colleges and universities agreed to allow these students who live in Ohio and have this designation to attend Ohio’s public colleges at an in state tuition rate. But Republican State Representative Matt Lynch wants to change that.

“I think it’s important to Ohio taxpayersm” Lynch says. “It’s hard to estimate exactly, but potentially it’s in the tens of millions of dollars that it will cost to subsidize these students and the current rule on administrative code is those who are not here as voters, and certainly that includes those who are here illegally shouldn’t be voting, that they do not qualify for in state tuition.

Effectively every other legal Ohio citizen ends up subsidizing those students and I don’t think that’s correct. At the very least, it’s a matter for the legislature to decide and not to be dictated by a federal government program.

But Robin Burnette, a spokeswoman for a group representing students with this designation, says there’s something important to remember when you think about protecting taxpayers.

These are taxpayers. They pay Ohio State taxes. They pay federal taxes. They have work permits. They have social security cards so they are legitimate workers in the economy and students in the economy.

Burnette says it’s also important to remember that the students who get this designation largely did not make the decision to come here but they are here legally.

“Some came here at six months old, some at two, three, four(years old), and even in our preschool and daycare. And they’ve gone through our whole education system. And to end it there, it’s more of a cost on taxpayers to not go to college because if they don’t, we know they are going to make less, they are not going to prosper like they would with an associates or bachelor’s degree which is what most of them want to do with their lives.”

Burnette says if these students can’t get the in state tuition rate, many will not be able to go to college because the international rate that they’d have to pay is about three times higher.

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