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.