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.