Undocumented Immigrants to Get Tuition Break
Undocumented immigrants will get a break on tuition at the University of California under a plan approved late last month allowing many of them to pay the amount charged to in-state residents.
Under the plan, students who graduated from a California high school after three years of attendance will pay in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status. Undocumented immigrants currently must pay the higher out-of-state tuition even if they have lived in the state for years.
Immigrants will have to file for legalized status to qualify for the lower tuition. Last month’s vote by the university system’s Board of Regents was 17-5.
“Talk what you will about their status, the reality is industries could not survive without the backbreaking work these people and their parents do,” says California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a member of the board.
Other regents said the move was a mistake.
“We’ve got to take care of Americans first,” David S. Lee says. “Now we’re telling the whole world just come in illegally, and we will give you a good education.”
The change effectively cuts annual tuition for eligible immigrants by $11,000 — from nearly $15,000 to about $4,000.
Gov. Gray Davis and the state Legislature approved a bill last year implementing the same policy change at California State University campuses and community colleges.
Before the vote, America Yareli Hernandez, an 18-year-old student at Fresno State, told the regents she wants to transfer to a UC campus but can’t afford the tuition. She said her parents moved to California from Mexico when she was 3 months old.
“I feel I should have equal opportunity because I have been here all my life,” she said outside the meeting. “It’s not my fault. I didn’t make a conscious effort to arrive illegally.”
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