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Details on the Tuition Equity Bill

12 Januar 2015 No Comment

Adrian G and Jackie Castro-Cooper

Januar 12,2 2015

Proposed Legislation: Amend section 37-103-25 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 to provide all Mississippi students affordable access to in state tuition and scholarships at state institutions of higher learning. A major effort by MIRA and the Mississippi ACLU. 

The Problem:

Tuition equity would grant in-state rates to students entering the university system who have met certain criteria, such as attendance or graduation from a Mississippi high school. Currently, twenty states have embraced tuition equity. These states have all realized that denying access to college to any qualified high school graduate just isn’t a smart policy. Zusätzlich, Mississippi universities are searching for ways to generate more tuition dollars. In an effort to increase their enrollments, Delta State, Alcorn State, and Mississippi Valley State have already adopted policies that allow all of their students to pay in-state rates instead of out of state tuition and fees.

Currently, many immigrants cannot access higher education within the state because they are required to pay non-resident tuition. Non-resident tuition and fees are, on average, almost twice the cost of in-state tuition. This can be an insurmountable cost for low and moderate income families. The state of Mississippi ranked next to last in educational attainment in the latest Census, which clearly calls for greater commitment to education and training. Jedoch, we continue to exclude Mississippi-raised, hardworking, young people from access to a quality post-secondary education.

A tuition equity policy would cost the state of Mississippi virtually nothing, yet it would enable the state to receive tuition dollars that it would not have received otherwise. Data shows that when young people are denied in state tuition and scholarships they do not attend college at all because they simply cannot afford to. States with large numbers of bachelor’s degree holders have higher median wage levels than other states and generate more tax dollars. Deshalb, when we deny a student access higher education, we lose their tax contributions and the intellectual capital they can bring to our state.

Opponents of improving access to higher education for all students who graduate from Mississippi high schools will likely cite the potential cost to the state and concern that undocumented students will take college classroom seats away from native-born students. But neither concern is credible. Even if every single estimated undocumented student enrolled in college, they would represent less than 1 percent of the total in-state students in the public post-secondary systems. States that already have tuition equity have had a similar experience, with undocumented students representing at most 1 percent of all in-state tuition payers. In Oregon, it was reported that of the 103,074 students enrolled fall 2013, in the Oregon University System, only 25—yes 25, were undocumented applicants for tuition equity.

The Solution: 

Abschnitt 37-103-25 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 should be amended to provide all Mississippi students affordable access to in state tuition and scholarships at state institutions of higher learning. It is a sensible policy that reflects an understanding that our society and economy are better off when all motivated students can pursue a college education.

Tuition equity is an important tool for furthering the state’s goal of increasing the education of its residents and ensuring that the workforce is ready for the jobs of the future. By lowering the cost barrier to college for undocumented students, Mississippi will come out ahead, with minimal costs and strong economic benefits.

The full text of the bill we be available online once it’s introduced.

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