On July 1, Florida joined 17 other states in allowing some undocumented students to attend Florida colleges and universities at in-state rates. To qualify, undocumented students must apply to college within two years of their high school graduation and submit a transcript proving they attended a Florida high school for at least three consecutive years.
The law’s name is House Bill 851 Postsecondary Education Tuition and Fees: Out-of-State Fee Waiver for Select Florida High School Graduates. Key emphasis on “select.” While the law is a welcome and huge leap forward in tuition equity, many undocumented Florida students will not meet its selection criteria.
Earlier this month, the Florida College System circulated a memo to its academic and student affairs officers that includes a detailed Q&A that explains how the law will be applied to more complex student cases.
Among the surprises revealed in this document were the exclusion of homeschoolers (by definition, they did not attend a Florida high school for three consecutive years). The law, however, doesn’t just apply to college hopefuls recently out of high school. It also includes currently enrolled undocumented college students for the duration of their studies if they meet the criteria listed above.
Changes in majors, programs and institutions are permitted, and continuous enrollment is not required. Students may use the in-state tuition waiver for up to 110 percent of the credit hours required of their degree or certificate program. Lastly, no tuition refunds are available for criteria-eligible students who paid for classes at out-of-state rates prior to July 1, 2014.