Students call for tuition equality in Tallahassee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's a real-life lesson in politics for some college students from around the state of Florida.

They spent Wednesday in Tallahassee lobbying lawmakers and making their voices heard on issues related to higher education.

One of those issues is whether or not the children of undocumented immigrants who currently live in Florida should get a break and pay in-state tuition.

So far, the Florida House has approved this proposal, and it's still making its way through the Senate.

Under it, students would have to spend four years at a Florida high school to be eligible for the in-state tuition rate.

The bill's sponsor says these families still pay taxes in Florida, so they should get a break on tuition.

Fifty percent of the people questioned in a newly released poll from the University of North Florida, which included people from around the state, support the measure. Forty percent opposed it.

That surprised the UNF political science professor who led the polling effort, Michael Binder.

"I was very surprised by that, and I think it points to a shift in the discussion about immigration and a shift in the understanding about immigration," Binder said. "I think it'll be interesting to see if this bill can get out of committee in Tallahassee and ultimately if it gets signed into law."

Carlo Fassi, UNF's student body president, joined his counterparts from other public universities at the state Capitol Wednesday, calling for tuition equality.

In addition to the in-state tuition break for undocumented immigrants, they want a break for veterans who are originally from outside of Florida but want to attend college here.

They say these tuition breaks could save some students thousands of dollars.

"I ask you to continue to fight for young Floridians, that you continue to understand the significance of investing in our future, knowing an investment in us is an investment in Florida," Fassi said.

The students also asked for funding for campus buildings and infrastructure.

The UNF pollsters found that more than 60 percent support more funding for campus upgrades.

The poll also looked at the rising cost of a college education.

About half of the Floridians questioned felt the state should increase its funding rather than asking students to pay higher tuition rates.

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