Florida Legislature passes in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrants

Gov. Rick Scott expected to sign bill into law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida students living in the country illegally will be allowed to qualify for in-state college tuition rates under a bill passed by the Legislature.

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The bill heads to Gov. Rick Scott, who has already promised to sign it into law.

The Florida House on Friday voted 84-32 for the bill which offers the in-state college tuition rate to undocumented students who had attended a Florida school for at least three years prior to graduation. Currently the in-state tuition rate is one-quarter of what is paid by out-of-state students and those who are in the country illegally.

The in-state college tuition bill has been considered several times before but it drew strong opposition from many Republicans.

But this year, Scott and other GOP leaders such as House Speaker Will Weatherford backed the bill.

As thousands of college graduates proudly walk across stages wearing caps and gowns this week, "Dream Act students" are donning graduation caps at the state capitol, as well.

"These are children that pretty much everyone agrees, they're in a really difficult position through no fault of their own," said Orlando Immigration Attorney, Rusten Hurd while describing those students.

They are children of illegal immigrants who, pending Governor Rick Scott's signature, will now be able to go to a state university for the same price a legal, Florida resident would.

"Obtaining instate tuition is a significant benefit for students. I mean, you're talking about a lot of kids who have been here basically their whole lives, that were brought here as young children and they were unable to go to school," said Hurd.

Before the measure was passed by the Senate and House Thursday and Friday, undocumented students had to pay the out-of-state price even if they were Florida residents, which is more than three times as much as they will now.

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