Undocumented students are now exempt from paying out-of-state tuition for Oregon colleges, in accordance to the passing of House Bill 2787.
The Student Equity Bill passed with a 38-18 vote on Feb. 22, according to an Oregon Legislature press release.
The measure still has to go through the senate, but if passed, Oregon would become the 14th state to adopt a student equity policy, joining both Washington and California on the west coast, explained COCC latino program director Evelia Sandoval.
Under current tuition policy at Central Oregon Community College, undocumented students already pay in-state rates, according to Sandoval, but the new law would make it more affordable for students to transfer to a four-year university.
“It is only good for Oregon,” said Sandoval. “[Currently] we are investing resources into students and then losing the brightest [undocumented] students to other states.”
A positive effect of the passing of this bill is that it forces institutions to look at their policies, explained Sandoval.
Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College’s director of legislative affairs Kurt Killinger has been working with the Oregon Community College Student Association, putting pressure on lawmakers in Salem about student equity.
“It was one of the six prioritized issues this year,” said Killinger, who sits on the board of directors of the OCCSA. “I look at it as a student issue. If somebody wants to go to school, I see no reason why they should pay three or four times more than everybody else.”
Dembrow and his fellow democrats were unanimous in the House vote, while five Republicans also voted yes on the bill.
This bipartisan action comes amidst a growing push for immigration reform in the United States, a trend that Sandoval believes is likely to continue.
“It’s national; people are paying attention to what Latinos are saying,” said Sandoval. “All these little steps, I think something big is coming down the pipe.”