Instate College Tuition for Children of Illegal Immigrants

Children of illegal immigrants born in Florida are asking lawmakers to lower their college tuition.  They’re paying out-of-state tuition, even though they’re US citizens.  Legislation to give the students in-state tuition has been filed, but isn’t going anywhere.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Georgia Gwinnett College graduate Ramona Pataca receives her diploma from Gov. Nathan Deal, who gave the commencement address at Thursday's graduation on the Lawrenceville campus.

Children of illegal immigrants born in Florida are asking lawmakers to lower their college tuition. They’re paying out-of-state tuition, even though they’re US citizens. Legislation to give the students in-state tuition has been filed, but isn’t going anywhere.

18 year old Renato Lherisson doesn’t want to be here at the state capitol. He’d rather be in school, but he can’t afford it. “I was born in Florida. I went to high school in Florida. I want to go to college in Florida. I want to work in Florida. (slight sob) I’m sorry.”

Renato is a US citizen born in Miami. He moved to Haiti after his father died and moved back after the 2010 earthquake. But since Renato’s is the son of illegal immigrants, if he wants to go to a state school, he’ll have to pay out-of-state tuition and right now he can’t afford it. So he’s sitting this year out.

“I applied like everybody else expecting that I would be paying instate fees and then they told me I would have to pay three times the amount.”

State legislation to allow Renato and other US citizens with illegal immigrant parents to pay instate tuition has been filed, but isn’t being heard. Democratic Rep. Hazelle Rogers is upset about it. “It is unfair, it isn’t right and this legislature should take action.”

The chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Bill Proctor, says he’s willing to give it shot, if a subcommittee vets it first. “If it comes through the process, then in all probability we would.”

Another, more controversial piece of legislation, would give instate tuition rates to anyone who spent three years in a Florida public school and graduated.

Another obstacle facing Renato and other US citizens with illegal immigrant parents is student loans. The loans won’t cover out-of-state tuition.


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  • by Marie Location: Haiti on Jan 29, 2012 at 05:43 PM
    Bruce wrote: They play that game for all its worth. If his parents are illegals, then they are either using someone elses social security number to get jobs, or they are being payed under the table and not paying taxes. There fore they and their children are more of a drain on our systems, let them pay the increased tuitions to make up for the difference. Are there other childern in the house that are under 18, if not, deport his illegal parents. Dear Bruce you are wrong...I strongly suggest you to listen to the video...instead of this article...Renato has never said that his parents were illegal immigrants. Renato was born of foreign parents in Florida while her mother was studying for a Masters. You can never have them deported because they never applied for a residence. Renato is back to school in florida after the earthquake, january 12,2010. I hope you will never be hit by a disaster dear Bruce.
    • reply
      by Bruce on Jan 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM in reply to Marie
      Marie wrote: "Renato has never said that his parents were illegal immigrants." But the story states: "But since Renato’s is the son of illegal immigrants" Marie, are you saying the story is misleading us? What does applying for residence have to do with not being able to deport an illegal immigrant? To my knowledge, illegals are deported every day. Just as soon as they are cought by the authorities and found to be here illegaly, they are jailed and held for ICE, then deported back to their country of origin. Marie, i dont understand how immigrants think they can just walk into this country at will and just have an american life from then on. We (Americans) cant just walk into Mexico at will and take up residence there. We would eventually be cought and jailed, im sure, in MUCH less humane prisons than we have here in America, and we would eventually be sent packing, back to our land of origin.
  • by DaveV Location: pc on Jan 28, 2012 at 06:56 AM
    Notice noone is fighting to help out the children of actual US citizens. Students whose citizenship is not in question are having a hard time getting funding for school but strangely you hardly ever hear about the gov't or other special interest groups trying to help them. Since the federal gov't took over funding for education thousands of students have dropped out of college due to lack of available funding. Considering cost of education puts a strain on not just the students but the parents also, the gov't should look into helping American families first!
  • by Bec Location: PC on Jan 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
    I feel bad for the children of "illegals". They are truly innocent. They didn't choose to be born where they were born, but their parents should pay the price for coming to the U.S. illegally and the children...well, unfortunately are collateral damage. So sad.
  • by Fred Location: PC on Jan 27, 2012 at 09:01 AM
    A students residency status for tuition purposes in Florida is based upon the parents residency status until the student is 24, married, or has children. So if the parents are illegal aliens, then they are not Florida residents. As a result the child in question is not eligible for in-state tuition. His US citizenship is irrelevant to this particular situation.
  • by Amber Location: PC on Jan 27, 2012 at 08:24 AM
    I agree that if you are born in the United States, you are a US citizen. BUT if you are born in the US to ILLEGAL immigrants, than you are NOT a US citizen. If he wants to become a US citizen, then he needs to follow the rules on becoming a US citizen. He shouldn't have any trouble becoming one since he did got to school here. If anyone wants to say he is a US citizen then think about it in a differnt aspect. You are born to a military or missionary family living overseas, you are not considered a citizen of that country, you are considered an american citizen since you were born to american parents. The only difference with this scenario is that the parents are not over there illegally. I think this is another way for the illegal immigrants to come over here and get the same treatment as everyone else that has worked hard for it. I think it's time for the government to grow some and put their foot down. If those people don't like it, then guess what, you have the FREEDOM to leave.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 27, 2012 at 05:30 AM
    Apply for a grant to college. As long as you are a citizen you should be able to apply.
  • by Mary on Jan 27, 2012 at 03:50 AM
    Birthright citizenship in the United States The provisions in Section 1 have been interpreted to the effect that children born on United States soil, with very few exceptions, are U.S. citizens. This type of guarantee—legally termed jus soli, or "right of the territory"— does not exist in most of Europe, Asia or the Middle East, although it is part of English common law and is common in the Americas. The phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" indicates that there are some exceptions to the universal rule that birth on U.S. soil automatically grants citizenship. They are citizens and should not pay out of state fees. If it's just an urban legend then all of us would be paying out of state fees.
  • by Janice Location: Bayou George on Jan 26, 2012 at 08:01 PM
    Citizenship is not an urban legend. It is law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Unless we are willing to abide by our own laws and afford these children the same rights as any other US citizen, we are no better than their parents who have broken our law. The only way to change this is to repeal the amendment. Two wrongs do not make a right.
    • reply
      by Ralph 's wife on Jan 27, 2012 at 05:34 AM in reply to Janice
      Two wrongs does make a right. Two illegal people have a kid on American soil the kid is legal, So there !!
    • reply
      by Bruce on Jan 27, 2012 at 02:33 PM in reply to Janice
      Unless we are willing to abide by our own laws and deport the illegals before they have a chance to have anchor children in this country. They play that game for all its worth. If his parents are illegals, then they are either using someone elses social security number to get jobs, or they are being payed under the table and not paying taxes. There fore they and their children are more of a drain on our systems, let them pay the increased tuitions to make up for the difference. Are there other childern in the house that are under 18, if not, deport his illegal parents. The anchor children are now adults, so there is no reason to keep them here under that premise!
  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Jan 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
    You are NOT a U.S. citizen if your parents are here illegally just because you were born on American soil. This is an urban legend.
  • by Sam Location: PC on Jan 26, 2012 at 03:50 PM
    His parents should have not come here illegally then, no pity.
    • reply
      by Marie on Jan 30, 2012 at 04:44 AM in reply to Sam
      Dear SAM, Who said Renato' parents came in USA illegaly? they do not need pity from anyone ...I hope you can make the difference between illegal immigrant & foreign parents.Renato has never said that his parents were illegal immigrants. Renato was born of foreign parents in Florida while her mother was studying for a Masters. You can never have them deported because they never applied for a residence. Renato is back to school in florida after the earthquake. I hope you will never be hit by a disaster...
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