Opinion Piece Submission

The American Dream – Deserved

By J. David Armstrong, Jr.
President, Broward College

Colleges across Florida uphold the principle that a student who is talented and eager to learn should have access to higher education. Too often, though, a college education is unattainable due to cost or life circumstance. This is especially true for those with an uncertain immigration status.

In Florida, our constitution guarantees an education through the public school system to children of undocumented parents, but Florida law charges them up to four times the college tuition than for state residents, limiting their ability to earn a college degree in their home state.

A college’s mission is to educate its populace – preparing them to obtain jobs to support themselves and their families. At Broward College we believe that by keeping higher education affordable we help our community and state grow economically and limit the need for costly social services.

As the President of Broward College, I regularly see motivated young people who share this American dream.

Today, the 28 Florida College System presidents unanimously supported Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford in his efforts to provide these young people with access to higher education by opening the doors of in-state tuition to them.  Speaker Weatherford’s proposal would reserve in-state tuition for immigrants who have made Florida their home – earning a high school diploma or attending high school for at least three years, while also beginning the process to obtain legal residence. Yesterday Gov. Scott said he will consider these changes.

The time to remove the barriers to higher education is now. The future of these young people seeking the American dream depends on our support of change this legislative session. Fifteen states in the U.S. have adopted similar proposals, including — Texas, California, New York, and New Jersey. Let’s not be last in doing the right thing.

 

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