Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clarifying Gardenhire's Other In-State Tuition Bill

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Over at "Post Politics," Andrea Zelinski has a post about how the push to assure all Tennessee residents, whether they're here legally or not, can receive in-state tuition has failed for the year. That's disappointing, but not surprising.

What is surprising is this nugget:

Sponsor Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has another bill that would allow U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition. That bill is scheduled for the Senate floor tonight and the House floor in two weeks.

This makes it seem like the state currently doesn't allow U.S. citizens from receiving in-state tuition based on who their parents are. But I think, based on the current statute (Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-8-104) and Gardenhire's bill (SB2115), what's going on here is slightly different. Right now, under Tennessee law, universities are left to their own devices to decide who qualifies for in-state tuition. Gardenhire's bill would spell out who, for the sake of qualifying for in-state tuition, a Tennessee resident is.

This isn't just good for the citizen children of undocumented immigrants, but for kids whose parents moved here when they were in high school and for homeschoolers — since it outlines how long you have to have resided in Tennessee (a year) and what kinds of credentials count toward you being considered the equivalent of a high school graduate.

It's hard to see how Republicans could argue with that.

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