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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida college students who are being denied in-state tuition rates are getting a little help from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group filed a federal class action lawsuit Wednesday against the Florida State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors on behalf of several aspiring college students who are being denied in-state tuition because they cannot prove the lawful immigration status of their parents.

The students themselves were born in the United States and are legal Florida residents.

“These policies attack our most fundamental American values by punishing children for the actions of their parents,” said Jerri Katzerman, director of educational advocacy for the SPLC. “It’s an unconscionable attack on students from immigrant families that more than triples the cost of a college education.”

The difference in tuition prices between in-state tuition and out of state tuition is staggering, according to the SPLC.

At Miami-Dade College, for example, the cost per term in the two-year associate degree program for residents is $1,266, compared to $4,524 for non-residents. The cost of a 4 year degree per term is $1,400 for residents, and non-residents have to shell out $6.246.

“These American students went to the same Florida high schools, held down the same part-time jobs and participated in the same after-school activities as their counterparts who are granted in-state tuition,” said Tania Galloni, managing attorney for the SPLC’s Florida office. “We are simply asking that these students be granted the same rights as all other Florida citizens.”

The group says the lawsuit is the first one filed challenging the policy in Florida and is part of the on-going effort of SPLC to reform school policies that push students out of school or limit their opportunities for a successful future.

  1. Gail Johnson says:

    My daughter can prove she is an American by birth and by the birth of her parents and grandparents and great grandparents etc.. She is still being denied help for school as she has two parents who love each other and believe in the institution of marriage. We have hit hard times but because we have stayed together didn’t kick our child out or abuse her she cannot get finacial aid and these people believe they have the right to complain.What about hard working citizens who try and live the right way also. I am not saying these kids don’t deserve an education but my child and many like her do also. Where’s the support group for us.

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