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Florida students need not prove parent's legal status for in-state tuition

U.S. citizen students who are the children of undocumented immigrants living in Florida are denied equal protection of the law if they are forced to pay the higher out-of-state tuition rates, according to a recent ruling in federal court.

The federal litigation challenged the higher education tuition policy in Florida. Students who live in Florida and cannot prove their parent's legal status have been asked to pay three times as much toward tuition than children of U.S. citizens who reside in Florida.

The federal judge threw out the regulation, saying that the state policy is discriminatory and provides unfair obstacles for many students. The judge wrote in his ruling that, "The state regulations deny a benefit and create unique obstacles to attain public post-secondary public education for U.S. citizen children who would otherwise qualify for in-state tuition," according to Fox News Latino.

The regulation that was at issue in the federal litigation has been in effect in Florida for several years. The policy had applied to college kids under the age of 24 who are claimed by their parents as dependents. Government statistics show that nearly 9,000 college students who are the children of undocumented immigrants enroll in public colleges and universities in any given year.

Those students, and maybe more who have not enrolled due to the policy, may be directly affected by the ruling. However, it remains unclear how many students currently enrolled will see that benefit. It is unclear when a student's status and tuition costs may be changed after the federal ruling.

A state representative from Lauderdale, Florida, has previously sought to end the tuition policy. She told Fox News Latino that the court's ruling is welcome news, saying that," The bottom line is simple: a U.S. citizen should be treated like a U.S. citizen no matter who their parents are."

Source: Fox News Latino, "Judge Favors Students in Immigrant-Tuition Suit," Sep.4, 2012

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