Oregon Passes Tuition Equity Bill (by Guest Blogger Kristin Saito)

Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 2787, 38 – 18, on Friday, which would grant in-state tuition for undocumented student’s who have attended school in the country for at least five years, studied at an Oregon high school for at least three years and graduated, and show intention to become a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. To show intent, a copy of the student’s application for the federal deferred action program, the DREAM Act, or a statement of intent that the student will seek citizenship as permitted under federal law would be required. Students will also be required to apply for a federal individual taxpayer identification number or a similar federal identification number. House Bill 2787 would also require an annual report from the Oregon University System detailing the number of students who applied and were accepted under the program, as well as their financial impact. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has approved similar bills in 2003 and 2011, with a promise from Governor John Kitzhaber to sign it. Supporters emphasized tuition equity as an economic and education issue that will help the state meet its education goals and allow talented children, raised in Oregon, to contribute to the state’s economy. An alternative version of the bill was proposed by House Republican’s that would have let the bill expire in 2016, limited tuition equity to undocumented immigrants who are in the U.S. by July 1st, and stricter guidelines on how students would demonstrate they intend to be lawful citizens. According to a fiscal impact statement on the bill, if the program becomes law, approximately 38 students are expected to utilize the program from 2013 – 2015, with another 80 students expected to benefit the following two years. The statement also says these students could contribute $1.9 million to the state in in-state tuition payments over the next four years (http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/02/oregon_house_passes_tuition_eq_1.html).

$1.9 million to the state in tuition appears beneficial; however, I would like to know how much this program will cost the state, if at all, and what the actual amount of income would be after subtracting these costs. Do you see House Bill 2787 as an economic and educational benefit to Oregon, one that will help the state meet its educational goals and benefit the state’s economy?

I do not see a problem with the proposal of having stricter guidelines on how students demonstrate they intend to become a lawful citizen, a simple letter of intent does not seem adequate enough when trying to show intent. What do you think? Do you believe that the guidelines for the bill were appropriate or do you think that there should be stricter guidelines than those passed in the bill?



6 thoughts on “Oregon Passes Tuition Equity Bill (by Guest Blogger Kristin Saito)

  1. Kristin,
    NO I don’t think that intent is enough. If it is, then why can’t intent to be residents for U.S. citizens be enough for in state tuition? That’s why I say that a path to residency should be separate from going to college. What about all of the undocumented high school graduates that just want to be citizens, and not necessarily go to college? Wouldn’t giving them a path to citizenship improve our economy too, so at least they can work legally?

    • Lisa, I really appreciate you recognizing that college isn’t always an option for people and shouldn’t necessarily be the path to citizenship. I agree with you because I think that there are a lot of people who are citizens that aren’t in college but don’t have to defend themselves. What is another solution? How can we stop ostracizing immigrants who want to have a legal job but not go to college and incur a ton of debt?

  2. People come to America for a chance at a better life. That is what our country is founded on. Students of undocumented parents, should not be punished for their parents’ actions. These actions, by these parents, were most likely made with the same intentions of bettering theirs and their children’s future.

    I do not believe that we need stricter requirements for students who have made the choice to try and better themselves, along with their family and possibly community, in going to college. We do not live in a fair world. So, basing this argument on it is not fair to those of us who have lived here our entire lives or to those people who took the necessary steps to becoming an American citizen makes little sense to me. Is it fair that these children were born to parents who saw America as a brighter future and came here to work in industries that many of us won’t work in. Then, through hard work managed to make it, against the odds of poverty and discrimination to actually qualify for a college education. I find it terrible that we even have to discuss this issue. Why are we so against others’ success, when the studies show that the more educated our citizens are the better our country, and the world for that matter, will be in the future. I do not want to come across attacking anyone, but I would like us all to realize that we need to stop living as competitors of one another and focus more on the community aspect of life. We are all community members of the world, a lot of us are community members of Oregon, and if we can start to see the benefit of more educated views in this country then we might actually be able to solve some of the bigger issues in our lives.

    Life is unfair at times. We all know this. But, why is it okay for it to be unfair for certain people as long as it is not us. Put yourself in their shoes. I feel if we did this more often we would have a much different view.

  3. I understand the states needs in wanting students to prove their intent on becoming a citizen or lawful residents but is the letter of intent really as simple as it sounds? The law would already require students to have attended school for 5 years, 3 of those years being high school level, and to graduate. I feel like the fact that they also have to apply for federal documentation and tax payer documentation is a step in the right direction in getting these students to become valuable members of our community. Can the students not start the application process for residency or citizenship during this time? It seems like that would be a legitimate way of having stricter guidelines without unnecessary steps from those students who want their college education.

    I’m also curious what the actual cost to the state will be for this bill. It does not sound like that many students will actually be using the DREAM act. I think there are also a lot more factors contributing to the monetary benefits then just the amount the state will bring in from tuition. The students who graduate will also become working tax payers. College education will provide them more opportunities for jobs that offer health benefits thus lessening the burden on tax funded programs for people in poverty. I forget what the statistics are, but isn’t it true that children of college educated parents are more likely to attend college themselves? So allowing and encouraging these undocumented youth to attend college could foster a better future for the next generation.

  4. When it comes to helping people who need an extra boost I am always a firm believer in a modified version of the famous quote, ‘I would rather see 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man imprisoned’ The way I see it, I am willing to see 100 people take advantage of the system so long as one person who genuinely needs it is getting the help that without they would be doomed. Obviously we want to lessen the loopholes in anything but with social programs, especially ones for education and doubly for students who likely don’t speak English as a first language or whose parents don’t we need to present as few barriers as possible because something as simple as paperwork can be incredibly difficult for someone who is not familiar with the language of such documents to fill out properly if they are even aware they need to fill it out. If a student wants an education I can’t imagine their intent is anything nefarious, they just want to learn and be able to be competitive in the job market. It doesn’t appear to me that helping anyone get an education would ever be able to be considered a bad thing.

  5. I don’t think there should be stricter guidelines for this bill or others like the DREAM act. I agree with the fact that the students should be responsible for themselves and show an interest to continue education in college. I realize and accept that college is not for everyone, yet on the other hand I know that there are so many young students that do want that higher education but can’t because of their legal status. Even for me, a US born citizen with all the rights this country has to offer, it was difficult for me to navigate how to apply for college, find how to navigate a larger institution and how to persist in college. I was able to have the right to have a license to drive myself to school. Obtain a job legally to support myself. Apply for federal aid to help me financially through college. Yet an undocumented student cannot have any of this at our current state. Tuition equity being passed in the house is a small step in helping this students and I hope in the near future, much more can be done to help these students.

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