Indiana has taken a step toward rolling back a two-year-old ban on in-state college tuition for children of illegal aliens. The Senate Education Committee has voted 8-4 to restore the lower in-state rate for students who were already enrolled in state universities when the law took effect in July 2011.
Indiana University associate vice president Jeff Linder says all seven public universities in Indiana support the bill. He estimates “a couple of hundred” students would be affected.
One of those students, Victoria Hicks, told the committee she was 11 years old when she came to Indiana with her parents, and three semesters away from receiving her IU degree in international relations when the law made it financially impossible for her to continue.
“Eventually, the federal government will get their stuff together, and we‘ll be able to become citizens,” Hicks says. “And by that point, I don‘t want to wait until that happens to achieve my higher education; I‘d like to achieve that now.”
Hicks and other supporters say the law is forcing students who could contribute to Indiana‘s economy to leave the state.
The bill cleared committee with support from two senators, Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) and Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), who voted for the original law.
“These kids are victims,” Yoder says. “They‘ve done nothing wrong. They are not at liberty to tell their parents what to do when they cross this border, and I‘m not sure how we as a society here in Indiana benefit by trying to limit their possibilities.”
Yoder signed on as a co-author of the rollback bill, authored by Oldenburg Republican Jean Leising.