Nashville - Today, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would extend in-state tuition to students who meet certain criteria, regardless of immigration status.SB612/HB675 passed the committee by a vote of 6-2-1. Senators Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, and Tate voted to move the bill forward to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means committee after an amendment was adopted to require that students meet certain academic criteria in order to qualify.
While we are disappointed by the inclusion of the academic requirements, which will leave higher education out of reach for so many undocumented students in Tennessee, we are encouraged by the movement on the issue and the Senate committee taking the first step to increasing access and equity for immigrant students in Tennessee.
For the past three years, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and our members across the state have worked tirelessly on the campaign for tuition equality by organizing undocumented students and building a coalition that includes businesses, education institutions, and community supporters. TIRRC members filled the room as the committee members cast their votes.
The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the TIRRC:
“We applaud the leadership of Senator Gardenhire and the members of the committee who voted to extend access to in-state tuition to undocumented graduates. We have a long way to go before tuition equality is a reality for students in Tennessee, but today’s vote is a step in the right direction.”
The following is a statement from Diana Montero, TIRRC member and Dreamer:
“Even though this bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, the Senate Education committee took an incredible step forward in helping young people like me pay a fair price for college.”