Like millions of teenagers in America, I worked incredibly hard throughout high school to make sure I had the grades I needed to get into college. I applied to the University of Florida, one of the most prestigious colleges in the US, and was accepted. However, many of my friends who worked just as hard as me couldn't afford college-- they were denied in-state tuition because they were born outside of the US and are undocumented immigrants.
I am calling on my school, the University of Florida, to join the dozens of other public universities in the US who allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.
A college education is critical to obtaining a full-time job and becoming a productive, active member of society. I continue to work hard in college and will graduate next year with a degree in economics and political science. I also work on campus and have had many great internships.
But these opportunities aren't always available for the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate each year from public high schools in the US. Most colleges are out of reach because these students are charged international, or non-resident, tuition rates despite the fact that many have spent years in their state's public education system. At the University of Florida, annual tuition is estimated to be $6,270 for in-state students. For undocumented students, their "international" rate is more than $28,000 for tuition alone.
By charging more than three times the regular tuition amount, these students often don't get to attain their degrees, achieve many of their dreams, or reach their full potential. It's not fair to price hardworking students out of the opportunity to get an education just because of where they were born. Attending public universities like the University of Florida should be based on academic ability, not income level or citizenship status.
The Florida legislature won't take action on this issue and allow undocumeted students to attend public universities at in-state rates, but the university's board can take matters into their own hands. Join me in asking the University of Florida to grant in-state tuition to all students who've graduated from Florida high schools, no matter where they were born.