Florida Tuition Policy
IN-STATE TUITION POLICY
On June 9, 2014, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 851 into law. The bill grants undocumented students out-of-state fee waivers if they meet the following criteria:
Attended a Florida secondary school for 3 consecutive years immediately before graduating from a Florida high school
Applied for enrollment in an institution of higher education within 24 months after high school graduation
Submitted an official Florida high school transcript as evidence of attendance and graduation
A student granted an out-of-state fee waiver is still considered a non-resident student, is not eligible for financial aid, and cannot be reported as a resident for tuition purposes. In addition, this bill also states that a dependent child who is a U.S. citizen may not be denied classification as a resident for tuition purposes based solely upon the immigration status of his/her parent.
FASFA for Undocumented Students
Unfortunately, federal financial aid is unavailable for undocumented students. There are some states that offer in-state tuition and some grants even for undocumented immigrants. Please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information. There are also some scholarships that do not require legal residency status.
Policies Protecting Undocumented Students
The following national policies, both existing and proposed, are designed to help undocumented students pursue and finance a college education, avoid deportation and maintain privacy.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):
Anyone who came to the U.S. before turning 16 and who was 30 years old or younger on June 15, 2012, can apply for DACA consideration through the Department of Homeland Security, as long as they have been physically present in the U.S. since 2012, have a high school diploma or honorable military discharge papers, and have no felony convictions. Obtaining DACA status temporarily removes the chance of deportation. DACA students are also eligible to legally work in the U.S. for two years and receive a social security number. This policy makes undocumented students eligible for state and college financial aid and/or in-state tuition in many states.
Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act:
Since 2001, some members of Congress have tried to pass the DREAM Act, which would clear a pathway to citizenship or legal residency for undocumented students who attend college or join the military. It would also make federal loans available to undocumented students. Though the bill has never passed into federal law, individual states have passed their own DREAM acts. As of 2016, Illinois, California and Minnesota have all used the DREAM moniker to pass state legislation creating financial aid funds specifically for undocumented students. Several other states and D.C. have adopted similar policies to provide state aid and in-state tuition status to undocumented students.
Family Educational and Privacy Act (FERPA):
FERPA applies to all students, not just undocumented ones. Once students turn 18, they hold the rights to their educational records. Under FERPA, schools and colleges may not release educational records without a student’s permission. There are exceptions, however, for example, if there is a subpoena or court order in the case of extenuating circumstances. Schools are allowed release “directory information” — basic info like name and address — unless students request otherwise.