Undocumented students rally after tuition defeat

emilyBlog, News

Despite a bruising defeat this spring, undocumented students and their allies are more confident than ever that they can rally the support needed to win more affordable college tuition.

Under state law, undocumented students who want to go to public colleges must pay out-of-state rates that are often two or three times higher than those offered to Tennessee citizens. This year, a bill that would have given some undocumented students in-state tuition won the support of Gov. Bill Haslam and dozens of lawmakers, including some who had been vocal opponents in the past.

The bill ultimately failed by one vote in the House of Representatives, where critics said such a change would give undocumented students an unfair advantage over U.S. citizens.

The defeat brought some of the students to tears, but the months of effort exposed a strategy that could lead to victory during the next legislative session in 2016, according to Eben Cathey, advocacy manager for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

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