Young people across Missouri are receiving a harsh lesson about their state’s mean-spirited General Assembly.
It comes in the form of letters from public colleges and universities, notifying students that because of language slipped into a budget bill, they are no longer eligible for in-state tuition. For some, that means college costs have at least doubled.
These are immigrant students who came to the United States as children without the proper documents. Thanks to 2012 action by President Barack Obama, they can remain in the country under “deferred action” status.
In Missouri, that status offered a way around a policy that prevented state-funded colleges and universities from granting in-state tuition to students who had an “unlawful presence” here.
But this year, lawmakers changed the language to “unlawful immigration status.” Colleges interpret that to exclude the students from in-state tuition.
About 1,200 young people in Missouri have obtained deferred action status, although not all of them attend college.
A University of Missouri spokesman said 20 to 30 affected students are believed to attend the system’s four campuses. Fourteen attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and 20 more students are enrolled for the fall semester.
At UMKC, out-of-state students pay $438.70 more per credit hour. So a student who took 12 credit hours in a semester would see tuition rise by $5,264.
The university is seeking private funding to close the gap, a UMKC spokesman said. The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, which has two affected students, is also planning to use private funds.
The schools are doing the right thing, but the legislature’s policy is immoral and foolish.
Lawmakers said they were taking a stand against illegal immigration. But pricing kids out of college isn’t going to stem illegal immigration one bit. And the affected young people aren’t going anywhere. They’ll just be less educated and less prepared to contribute to the state’s economy.
You don’t even need a college degree to figure out how stupid the Missouri legislature was to rewrite this rule.