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UISG votes in support of undocumented citizen tuition

BY MEGAN DEPPE | FEBRUARY 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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As more universities across the nation allow in-state tuition for undocumented students, the University of Iowa Student Government is hoping to support legislation in the coming year. UISG voted on and passed a motion to endorse state legislation Tuesday that would allow undocumented students in Iowa to receive in-state tuition, as do their documented peers.

Carter Bell, the UISG governmental relations committee head, said she had suggested the idea for supporting this legislation at a previous meeting. After that, UISG Sen. Maddie Bushnell took an interest in pursuing it. “She came at it from a personal perspective,” Bell said.

Bushnell said that after hearing about the legislation from Bell, it “was a no-brainer to me that it was important.” “It was evident to me that more students should be able to get more affordable education, especially at a higher level,” she said. “It just made sense to me.”

The legislation states that in order for applicants to apply for in-state tuition, they must have gone through elementary, junior high, and high school in the state of Iowa. Applicants are also required to sign an affidavit that states they have either applied or plan to apply for citizenship. This does not include their application for residency.

Bushnell said during the meeting that she thought the endorsement was a great idea and she didn’t know “why we wouldn’t educate those who have been in our state for 10 years.” “The American dream is that if you work hard, everyone should have the same opportunity and education is the great equalizer in the United States,” Bell said. “Just raising awareness is a big step.”

The UISG voted to back the legislation for future legislative sessions. Bell said the vote would make sure the proposal has the organization’s support next year. “It’s just showing support that those who have been part of the state of Iowa …” Bushnell said.

A few UISG members were concerned that this was a partisan issue, but Bushnell said it didn’t seem partisan to her. “I wanted to stress that this wasn’t a partisan issue,” she said. “It’s about the University of Iowa wanting to get more students educated.”

Currently, 16 states have provisions allowing in-state tuition for undocumented citizens, including Illinois, Texas, and California. Fourteen of these states passed legislation, and two states, Rhode Island and Oklahoma, passed it in their state Board of Regents. Bushnell said most states require that undocumented citizens have attended elementary through high school in the state in order to apply for the in-state tuition.

Three states have barred undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition: Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana. Bushnell said UISG will send its recommendation to the Legislature, showing that the UI students were in support of the proposal.

“I think that it is symbolically important,” said UISG President Katherine Valde. “Our ruling tonight doesn’t change the law, but we pride ourselves on being an all-inclusive campus, and this is really symbolic of that.”


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