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Tuition equity bill passes out of Senate committee

virginia general assemblyA proposal to expand in-state tuition equity to students who otherwise would be eligible, except for their immigration status, passed out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health on Friday.

Young people who are undocumented or are DACA recipients, who grew up and graduated from high school in Virginia currently pay out-of-state tuition rates in the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities. Championed by undocumented youth and allies for eight years, the vote means that the bill (SB 1640) proceeds to the Senate Finance Committee.

Yanet Limon-Amado, member of the Virginia Intercollegiate Immigrant Alliance (VIIA) and DACA recipient, said, “This is a small victory and I’m please to know that I can continue the fight because this is the beginning to a new future for undocumented students in Virginia. Being a DACA recipient during this political climate scares me to know that my education is in limbo, but now I have some hope”

Steve Yoo, Campaigns Coordinator with NAKASEC Virginia and DACA recipient said, “Today’s vote is a testament to the organizing and commitment of undocumented youth and allies. As this moves forward to the Senate Finance Committee, some will argue that in-state tuition has a “cost” to the state. Not passing this commonsense proposal that lets more people go to college will have a much higher cost to the state. This includes losses because of unexplored potential, suppressed opportunity of young people who want to enter the Virginia workforce in fields the state desperately needs, and loss in revenue to public colleges and universities that they would otherwise not receive because undocumented youth can’t afford it. We will also be working to pass this proposal in the House of Delegates.”

Sen. Jennifer Boysko (33rd District) said, “Access to higher education is the key to earning higher wages for our Virginians. This year we have over 27,000 job vacancies that require an associate degree that is unfilled and more than 18,000 unfilled jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. Our economy depends on seeing that students of all walks of life have opportunities for higher education. We need to make it possible so that they are able to have affordable, quality education so that they can come and fill those jobs.”

Sen. David Marsden (37th District) said, “​”It’s important that we offer these individuals the opportunities to achieve their dreams. They’re here. Let’s get them educated and hopeful about the future.”

Del. Mark Keam (35th District) said, “​Today, the Virginia Senate moved one step closer towards treating all Virginians equitably by approving Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 1640, which would provide in-state tuition for immigrants on their way to becoming permanent residents of the United States. I want to thank the bipartisan group of Senators on the Education and Health Committee for their positive vote, and look forward to seeing this bill supported by the entire Senate soon.”