Florida House Passes In-State Tuition Bill

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: March 20, 2014 8:15 PM
Will Weatherford, Jeanette Nuñez

Will Weatherford, Jeanette Nuñez

A bill to offer in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants passed the Florida House Thursday, allowing DREAMers to get one step closer to tuition equality in the Sunshine State.

The bill, HB 851, sponsored by Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, passed by a vote of 81-33, with mostly Republicans voting “no” on the legislation.

HB 851 would allow students who attend a Florida high school for four consecutive years and enroll in a postsecondary institution within 24 months after graduation in-state tuition rates, provided they submit their high school transcript as documentary evidence of attendance and graduation. The bill would also extend the tuition and fee waivers for Purple Heart recipients to those who enroll in workforce education programs at Florida career centers.

Earlier this week, House Republicans offered an amendment to the bill to exempt Dreamers from university calculations for how many in-state students universities accept.

Offering in-state tuition rates for children of undocumented immigrants has been a high priority of Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, during this year’s legislative session.

“Today, the Florida House took a historic step toward putting a college degree within reach for a certain group of Florida students,” said Weatherford after the legislation was passed.  “The State of Florida invests thousands of taxpayer dollars to educate children who are here through no fault of their own.  The time has come to stop penalizing them for the mistakes of their parents.”

The bill gathered support from Republicans and Democrats alike, with many praising the legislation for its fairness to many of Florida’s students.

“For too long, young people have found the road to a college education blocked. They have found the best path to the middle class blocked because of something they had no control over,” said Janet Cruz, D-Tampa. “When they were young, their parents brought them to Florida. They are Floridians as much as you or me.”

Although the legislation passed in the House, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, is expected to have a much more difficult time passing in the Senate. Earlier this week, the proposal barely squeezed through the Senate Education Committee, winning a by 5-4 vote.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen

Comments (9)

Rick Lasure
7:33AM MAR 24TH 2014
I have seven children who are all natural born U.S. citizens, and have lived in Florida all of their lives. Now Will Weatherford is effectively giving millions of dollars of tax money to allow those precious few openings into our universities to go to children of illegals. How many children of legal citizens will have that opportunity to attend a Florida college taken away from them, to be given instead to children of illegals? I expect this kind of idiocy from Democrats...but now Republicans? Unbelievable.
9:31PM MAY 1ST 2014
A college application will be the same for immigrants as for "legal citizens"-- so maybe your kid better study harder to beat out the "illegals." Capitalism at its best-- competition means only the best students go to college!
H.E. "Pete" Ashley
8:32PM MAR 23RD 2014
What is the meaning of our citizenship when the rewards by our politicians to illegal aliens trump the penalty for their illegal presence and gives them financial advantages over citizens and those who came here legally? This is simply inviting more aliens to pore through our porous border. Any legalization will lead to amnesty then to citizenship. The Democrats will have accomplished their goal. The importation of votes.
3:37PM MAR 21ST 2014
Every single traitor who voted for this disgusting thing should be taken out and shot for treason. R and D alike if they voted for it.
Ron Scott
9:18AM MAR 22ND 2014
I agree ! This is political suicide for anyone who voted for this. VOTE OUT SPEAKER WEATHERFORD ! He cares more about illegal aliens then American citizens!
2:36PM MAR 21ST 2014
The arguement on this is way off base. Its conceded that the parents brought the law, but the arguement is that why punish the children.

lets get real, who is going to pay the tuition, the students or the parents? Aside from the basic argument that no one should benefit from breaking the law, its not, in most cases, the children who will get the benefit of any change, its the parents, they same one who came here illegally. lets get real
7:15AM MAR 21ST 2014
The Legislature has really screwed up by not including a salary for each of the illegals, PLUS, they should all be given free housing. After all, they're innocent bystanders in this situation. The Feds are dysfunctional is deporting illegals, so why not have Florida step into the mix by giving away what WE EARNED! Seems fair that those of us LEGAL residents pay for the ILLEGAL ones!
This legislature needs a complete cleansing! And like Jack, I don't care if you're R or D, you gotta go!
Just remember the Republicans took over this state almost 10 years ago and look where we are now. I'm with Jack. Vote FOR Charlie!
2:39PM MAR 21ST 2014
with you all the way up to vote for Charlie. He belileves in the Clinton school of politics, which way is the wind blowing, that is what i believe in. Never was worth a dam e and never will be.
Jack lee
11:32PM MAR 20TH 2014
ILLEGAL ALIENS GET IN STATE TUITION !!!!!!! WTF !!! What is the point in voting Republican when our Republicans are no different then democrats !!! Im staying home in 2014 if this passes the state house and is signed by Scott. VOTE out every house member and senator that votes for this bill. Mark my words Charlie Crist is our next governor if this passes

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