Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students in Oregon: Growing Our Educated Workforce

Currently, undocumented immigrants who wish to attend college in Oregon State are required to pay out-of-state tuition, regardless of how long they have lived in-state. Considering the estimated $14,000 cost difference between OSU’s in-state and out-of-state tuition, that residency distinction can be the difference between attaining a higher education and entering the workforce without a degree.

On Monday, February 11th, Governor Kitzhaber and a variety of business leaders participated in a press conference in a show of support for a new tuition equity bill, House Bill 2787. The bill would secure access to affordable higher education for potential students, regardless of their documentation status. On February 13th, at the bill’s public hearing in the House, over 250 people came out to support the legislation.

Proponents of the bill argue that its passing would result in a more educated Oregon workforce, which would attract more employers to the state. Advocates also suggest that it would lead to higher enrollment rates at universities, who will find more students enrolled at the in-state rate preferable to almost no students enrolled at the out-of-state rate.

The passage of Bill 2787 would also be a breath of fresh air for undocumented K-12 students who are strapped for cash. High school student Karla Castañeda said at the hearing, “While my friends look forward to college, I constantly think about my life after high school and wonder if I have a future.”

by Mica Habarad