There has been much misinformation in the reports and letters to the editor concerning H.B. 2787, the tuition equity bill that passed the Oregon House on February 22, 38 to 18. I applaud the representatives who voted for it, especially Rep. John Huffman.
Tuition equity is not a handout, just a fair shake. Under tuition equity, immigrants will pay the regular in-state tuition, just like every other high school kid in Oregon. Paying in-state tuition is expensive, $82 per credit hour at COCC, $178 per credit hour at the University of Oregon. Contrast this with out-of-state tuition: $220 per credit hour at COCC and $608 at the University of Oregon. Immigrant families will have difficulty with even COCC’s in-state tuition, but give them a chance to work hard to make their dreams come true. Unlike U.S. citizens, immigrants will remain ineligible for federal grants/loans for college. There is nothing about grants/loans in the tuition equity bill.
The immigrants who will receive tuition equity are also eligible for the new federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Once these immigrants have a DACA work permit/ID card, they will be able to apply for a Social Security card, an Oregon drivers’ license, and to work legally. Statements by public officials saying that “it doesn’t make sense to saddle students with debt when they can’t legally work after they receive a college education” are wrong.