Tuition equity bill gains momentum

On March 29, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 742 by a vote of 18-11, a crucial step in an attempt to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates if they met certain selection criteria.

The Oregon House of Representatives still must pass the bill, but the Senate’s approval has already angered many of the state’s conservative voters.

“At its core, it’s solely a money bill,” said Jake Falldorf, Associated Students of Southern Oregon University Executive Director of Governmental Affairs. “In it’s very basic level, it extends in-state tuition rates to Oregon high school graduates.”

Senate Bill 742 would extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who have attended an Oregon K-12 school for at least three years, graduated with an Oregon high school diploma or GED, have applied and been accepted to an Oregon university within three years of high school graduation, and are actively pursuing U.S. citizenship.

The bill has caused considerable uproar among conservatives, who accuse the state legislature of being soft on illegal immigration.

A common objection is that Oregon taxpayers are paying the price for the children of illegal immigrants to attend universities and colleges.

Another concern raised by critics of the bill is that it would result in an increase of illegal immigration to Oregon, where illegal aliens could take advantage of these policies.

“This bill has more bipartisan support than ever before,” said Falldorf, referring to previous versions of the bill. “The Oregon University System has done projections, and they’re saying ‘We’re not going to lwose money on this.’”

Supporters of the bill assert that with the decreased tuition rates more students would be encouraged to attend universities who otherwise wouldn’t; thus, increasing income from tuition.

“Tuition equity will cost Oregon taxpayers absolutely nothing,” said Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, in a statement on the passage of Senate Bill 742. “In fact, it would actually bring more tuition dollars into the Oregon University System, because students who would otherwise be unable to attend college will enroll. Only about 100 students will be affected by this bill [over] the next 7 years.”

Assuming the bill passes the House, it will immediately go before the Oregon Supreme Court, which will determine whether the legislation is in line with the State constitution.

 

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