By Bob Katzen

The Senate 3-37, rejected an amendment that would strike a section of the budget that would allow undocumented/illegal immigrants to qualify for the lower in-state tuition rate if they attended high school here for at least three years and graduated, or completed a GED.

They would also be required to provide a college or university with a valid social security number or taxpayer identification number, an affidavit indicating they applied for citizenship or legal permanent residence, or plan to do so once eligible, and proof they registered for selective service if applicable.

“Extending in-state tuition to our undocumented students is not only a matter of fairness but a crucial step towards achieving educational equity and effectively addressing our workforce shortages,” said Sen. Pavel Pavano (D-Lawrence). “It is imperative that we tap into the potential of all our citizens to maintain our state’s competitive edge in the economy. Now is the time to rally behind this long-overdue policy change and guarantee that every aspiring student, irrespective of their immigration status, will actively contribute to the growth and prosperity of our commonwealth.”

“In-state tuition for undocumented immigrants is an example of one of the upside-down priorities found in the Senate budget,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) who sponsored the amendment to remove the lower tuition provision. “Prioritizing the needs of our citizens of the commonwealth should be the focus of the Senate, including providing tax relief to legal residents, adequately funding our schools including help with surging special education costs and investing in our small businesses and infrastructure. Our residents are leaving the state because it’s expensive and our elected leaders have the wrong priorities.”

“The Senate’s fiscal year 2024 budget focuses on expanding access to higher education—not restricting it,” said Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “The data is clear: Students who attend Massachusetts public colleges and universities remain in the commonwealth after graduation, where they contribute to our economy and society. We must not obstruct any student seeking to fulfill their academic, personal and professional potential.”

Some senators said this new policy should not be rushed through the Legislature in the form of a budget amendment but should be the subject of a separate bill that has to go through the entire legislative process including public hearings.

(Please note what a “Yes” and “No” vote mean. The amendment was on striking the section that provides lower rates. Therfore, a “Yes” vote is for striking the section that offers the lower tuition and therefore is against the lower tuition. A “No” vote is against striking the section and favors the lower tuition.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen No

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