Tuition equity bills for children of illegal immigrants, foster children before legislature

Oregon’s legislature has been discussing two pieces of bills that would impact how foster children and the children of illegal immigrants would pay tuition for their higher education.

Senate Bill 742 is one of the most controversial bills to go through the legislature, as it will provide children of illegal immigrants with the ability to pay in-state tuition.

Sen. Frank Morse, the bill’s co-sponsor, opposed a similar bill in 2003, but his opinion changed after experiencing the country’s immigration system firsthand.

The bill passed through the Oregon Senate March 29 and is now before the House.

Rep. Michael Dembrow pointed out that 11 other states have implemented similar laws and have seen an increase in tuition revenue.

In-state tuition would only apply to students who have lived in the country for at least five years, went to an Oregon high school for three years, graduated from an Oregon high school, were accepted to a higher education institution and signed an affidavit with the institution to apply for citizenship.

U.S. Army veteran Ted Campbell opposes the law because veterans of the army would still required to pay full tuition.

“These veterans have fought and shed blood for the stars and bars. They also fought to give you the right to sit there and dispense their tax money,” Campbell said. “Now we want to reward those who have broken the law and entered this country illegally? You want to reward people for breaking the law. What is next?”

Jim Francesconi of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education said the bill does not reward people for breaking the law because many of these children were unaware of the actions of their [email protected]@[email protected]@

Another bill before the Oregon Senate would allow current and former foster children to be exempt from paying tuition and fees.

House Bill 3471 would give foster children who aged out of the system at 18 the opportunity to get a higher education by age 25.

“Going on to higher education is a struggle for every student and every family. But one of the things that most students have is that family and that home to live in, which can help make it possible to attend higher education. Foster children don’t have any of that,” Rep. Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) said.

According to statistics from the Department of Human Services, 196 students would qualify for the tuition waiver. HB 3471’s sponsors hope the tuition waiver will double the number of foster students at a higher education institution.

“This is only covering the tuition and fees for those universities. The youth will still have to work,” said Pamela Butler, a member of Children First for Oregon. “They might still qualify for work-study and would have to have jobs to pay for their books, their health care, their rent or any other cost you might incur going to higher education.”

Foster children are often eligible for the highest federal and state grants available because of their limited income, which would mean that the difference would be the only portion covered by this bill.

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