Opinions

Our View- In-state tuition gives fair chance to immigrants

If you haven’t already heard, last week, the Cal State University Board of Trustees approved a 15.5 percent increase in tuition. Tuition will increase by five percent for spring 2011 and by 10 percent for the next academic year. 

Tuition was hiked in order to “maintain the quality of Cal State education” by allowing more classes to be added, as well as increasing enrollment. As much as it is unfair to reject a higher number of students into the Cal State University system because the system cannot afford more students, it is equally, if not more, wrong to continue to force students to spend an excessive amount of money for their education. The cost of adding more classes would not be offset because there would be more students that would fill up these classes. 

Raising tuition is an awful situation for all students involved. Now, imagine that you’re a student who is considered “illegal” in this country. Things just got even tougher. Illegal immigrants are unable to receive state or federal financial aid, but would still have to face the rising tuition costs that only 50 percent of CSU students have to pay. Yeah, only half of CSU students actually pay tuition. 

The tuition increases may give more students access to higher education but what about undocumented students who’ve worked hard and graduated from a California school? Well, the California Supreme Court affirmed a ruling Monday that will help hardworking undocumented gain access to public higher education. 

The ruling would continue to allow illegal immigrants attending public universities or colleges to be eligible for the same reduced tuition as legal residents, saving them $12,000 per year. The lower tuition is guaranteed to students who attend California high schools for at least three years and graduate in state. It is expected to affect nearly 25,000 illegal immigrants. 

Critics of the law believe that it puts other students at a disadvantage because they are unable to benefit from the law, creating special circumstances for a group of people instead of helping all citizens. But aren’t all students who attend high school in California able to receive the lowered tuition?. 

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “This law makes higher education affordable for so many students who have the added difficulty of not being eligible for federal financial aid… If they are both ineligible for aid and then face higher tuition rates, it becomes virtually impossible for students to go on to higher education.”

According to the LA Times, this law could open the doors for more changes to occur. “Supporters of immigration overhaul hope that legislation that would offer some illegal immigrant students access to federal financial aid and a path toward citizenship will be taken up again.” 

These laws parallel the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act would grant permanent residency to immigrants who arrived in the Unites States before they were 16 years old and who have completed two years in the U.S. military, complete two years of a four-year university or graduate from a two-year community college. They must also have graduated from high school and be of “good moral character.”

Although we don’t agree with the tuition hikes, we can agree with laws that give everyone a fair chance at obtain a higher education. 


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