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Politics

Bill would allow in-state tuition for undocumented students

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tn.gov
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT/TNS)  --  When state lawmakers get back to work next week, one bill they’re expected to take up is a measure that would allow undocumented students who graduate from a Tennessee high school to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

Currently some 25,000 undocumented students living in Tennessee are not eligible for in-state tuition rates. They pay more than three times as much as their classmates to attend a public college or university, no matter how long they've lived in the state.

Cesar Bautista has lived in Tennessee since he was eight years old. Now 26, the Mexican-born resident has been trying for eight years to get his college degree. He’s been slowed by the high costs of out-of-state rates.

"I don't want to wait six years to graduate. I wish I could just finish it in three years just like everybody else. It's really frustrating, but the best thing I can do is just keep moving forward and try to take as many classes as possible."

Under the proposed legislation, students would have to have spend at least five years in Tennessee schools.

The tuition bill is sponsored by Memphis Republican Mark White in the House and Chattanooga Republican Todd Gardenhire in the Senate. Similar legislation was introduced last year, but failed to pass.