JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott is bringing serious heat to the in-state tuition issue, and he was in Jacksonville on Monday to talk about it.
Scott has supported the bill from the start of the legislative session, mostly because it puts limits on tuition hikes for all students.
The governor spoke with students and parents in a roundtable discussion Monday at the Duval County School Board building. He has been pitching a bill that would offer in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants.
"We need to make sure it doesn't matter what country you came from, what family, what ZIP code -- you have a shot of the dream," Scott said.
The Senate bill would offer the tuition break to anyone who had attended a Florida high school for three years prior to graduation. The legislation would also require any student seeking the tuition break to show proof that he or she had applied for citizenship.
"We want to see Florida flourish, we want to bring jobs here, pay our taxes here, be like any other Florida resident," said Rolando Cordova, a senior at Wolfson High School.
"I don't think you have to go any farther than listening to these students that clearly articulated that they've worked hard, put forth the effort, and this is what this country is based on," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.
Scott said he wants to make college more affordable for everyone else, too. He said he wants students to stay in Florida when they choose a college and then choose a career.
Scott came out in favor of Senate Bill 1400 earlier this year because it would also place limits on how much universities could raise tuition rates.
"I'm worried because tuition is very expensive, and we are trying to figure out ways to pay for everything," said Lynita Walter, the mother of a high school senior.
"I had no idea that it was going up 15 percent, this tuition cost," high school senior Sabon Greene said. "I mean, that's a lot."
Scott said colleges would still be competitive but based on performance funding.
"What's it cost per degree, given do you get a job when you finish? And how much money do you make?" Scott said. "So as long as we make the universities and colleges accountable, they will be more affordable."
The legislation has already cleared the Florida House by an 81-33 vote. The House bill could be taken up by the Florida Senate, but it would require waiving Senate rules by a supermajority vote.
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