Passing in-state tuition bill for children of illegal immigrants is important to everyone

Florida legislators look like they're ready to do the right thing and allow children of undocumented migrant workers who have lived here for most of their lives to attend our public universities and not pay out-of-state tuition. Kudos to State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, for supporting the bill in the House.

This issue has been around a while but until President Obama pushed for it a couple of years ago it was going nowhere. In some states Republican legislators are seeing the light. We hope they are doing it for the right reasons and not just because they see it as politically expedient because of the increasing Hispanic population.

We believe Pigman is doing it for the right reasons. He told Highlands Today he was at first skeptical but changed his mind when he considered that since these young people were not going to be deported, it's in everyone's best interest to provide a more affordable way for them to better themselves with a college education.

Under the current system, children of illegal immigrants, who were brought here through no fault of their own, pay much more for out-of-state tuition compared to in-state tuition. At South Florida State College the difference is that bachelor degree programs cost $119.37 per credit hour compared to $449.78 per credit hour for out-of-state tuition. It's difficult enough to afford in-state tuition for many students. Imagine a low income family trying to provide an education for their children with the out-of-state tuition rate.

Giving these children the opportunity for a quality education at an affordable rate benefits all of us. It provides careers to hard-working students who have done nothing wrong, grew up here and attended our public schools. It's how all Americans have worked their way up since the beginning of our nation.

It's great to see Florida legislators taking this matter seriously and finally doing the right thing. This is a big issue, particularly in our state, and affects a lot of young people from right here in the Heartland of Florida.

Providing affordable education is never a bad thing and critical to the success of our state. The better prepared and educated our young people are, the more it helps everyone throughout the state. We hope the bills going through the House and Senate are supported, approved and signed into law by the governor.