Student organizations are pushing for UF to change university laws that state undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition — even if they live in Florida.
“I’m a documented immigrant, but it’s always been an issue,” said Chrisley Carpio, a 21-year-old UF history senior. “These people live here, some of them know English better than Spanish, and then they’re deported back to countries they barely remember. It’s definitely an issue.”
A student-led petition was recently created that proposes a change to UF’s policy on out-of-state tuition undocumented students have to pay.
UF student organizations including CHISPAS, the Hispanic Student Association, UF Students for a Democratic Society and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Culture have been collecting signatures before they present the petition to UF President Bernie Machen on Oct. 17.
Students can sign the petition at chn.ge/19vwWaG. As of press time, about 5,900 students have signed.
Janine Sikes, UF spokeswoman, said the university cannot legally offer in-state tuition or in-state tuition waivers to undocumented students until Congress passes the DREAM Act or until Florida legislature passes a similar law.
“Right now, we depend highly on the Florida Board of Governors for any direction on this topic,” she said.
Mariana Castro, an undocumented immigrant from Peru, said she hopes to find direction from the government.
Castro, a 19-year-old neurobiological sciences freshman, said she was not anticipating the problems that would come after graduating high school.
“Once I started at UF, I realized what a long way I had come, but I also realized how far behind I was,” Castro said. “Every credit hour I take is about $900.”
Castro said she is struggling to pay for just one class a semester. A Bright Futures scholarship was awarded to her upon graduation from high school but was taken away once her undocumented status was taken into account.
“UF is supposed to be the flagship school of Florida,” Carpio said. “This petition needs to pass through the university first before it can be passed through any state Senate. We will be going to Tigert, no matter what.”
UF Student Government is sponsoring the UF Immigration Reform Symposium on Thursday, which will feature a conversation with Sen. Darren Soto and Sen. Dwight Bullard about the importance of tuition equality for undocumented students.
“Right now, there is no policy regarding immigration or tuition equity for students,” said Liana Guerra, a 20-year-old political science and economics junior. “It’s important to start at UF with this petition, but ultimately, we want to make changes in the state legislature.”
A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/8/2013 under the headline "Groups push for UF tuition policy change"