Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6844

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING IN-STATE TUITION ELIGIBILITY.

Vote Date:

3/19/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/12/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Representative Sharkey, 88th Dist.

Representative Aresimowicz, 30th Dist.

Senator Looney, 11th Dist.

Senator Duff, 25th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill is intended to allow for students who have only attended 2 years of high school within Connecticut to be eligible for in-state tuition rates, rather than the current 4 year requirement.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Werner Oyanadel, Executive Director, Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission: Mr. Oyanadel is in support of H.B 6844, focusing his attention on the opportunities it will make available to students without legal immigration status. He references Public Act 11-43, which states “a person regardless of immigration status qualifies for in-state tuition if he or she (1) resides in Connecticut; (2) attended any educational institution in the state and completed at least four years of high school here; (3) graduated from a high school in Connecticut, or the equivalent; and (4) is registered as an entering student, or is currently a student at, UConn, a Connecticut State University, a community-technical college, or Charter Oak State College.” If the undocumented student meets any of the above criteria, Mr. Oyanadel claims they will be allowed to apply for legal immigration status. However, under the current law, undocumented students who “apply for visas or lawful permanent resident status” run the risk of being deported. Furthermore, Mr. Oyanadel argues “[e]xtending in-state tuition status to people without legal immigration status who reside in Connecticut and meet certain criteria according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis of the Connecticut General Assembly is not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact to the constituent units of higher education.”

Wayne Locust, Vice President, Enrollment Planning & Management, UConn: Mr. Locust testified in support of H.B 6844, claiming the legislation would create a more accessible public college and university system within Connecticut. Also, it would increase the eligibility of students with legal immigration status, in terms of receiving in-state tuition. Mr. Locust stated “[t]he University looks forward to welcoming these additional students to our campuses should the legislation pass.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Senator Martin M. Looney, 11th District: Senator Looney testified in support of H.B 6844, stating undocumented students are a vital aspect of Connecticut's future. A majority of these students have grown up in Connecticut and by passing H.B 6844, more undocumented students will be able to receive their degrees. Ultimately, Senator Looney claims more people between the ages of 18-34 are beginning to migrate out of the state. However, “[s]tudents who attain degrees from public universities and colleges in Connecticut are more likely to build careers in Connecticut.” Therefore, by allowing for more students to become eligible for in-state tuition, the cost of tuition will essentially become more affordable, and “students will remain in [Connecticut] upon graduation.”

Benjamin Barnes, Secretary, Office of Policy and Management: Mr. Barnes testified in support of the bill, citing the lack of assistance that undocumented students currently receive. According to Mr. Barnes, these students are not eligible for federal financial aid and do not qualify for state assistance, institutional aide, or the Governor's Scholarship. Subsequently, this leaves undocumented students with a lack of options, which, if made available, would help ease the financial burden holding them back from obtaining a higher education. Furthermore, Mr. Barnes echoed statements made by Senator Looney, claiming a more accessible higher education system would lead to a larger job market in Connecticut. Ultimately, this expansion of eligibility regarding in-state tuition would “stem the migration of young people out of Connecticut.”

Connecticut Students for a Dream: C4D provided testimony in support for H.B 6844. The organization believes the legislation that passed in 2011, which allowed some undocumented students to receive in-state tuition, was a vital step in expanding access to higher education. However, the requirement for students to complete 4 years of high school within Connecticut is a detrimental barrier that diminishes the potential access to in-state tuition rates. C4D states that “[o]ut of the 19 states that have in-state tuition for undocumented students, no other state requires four years of in-state high school as a condition of receiving in-state tuition.”

C4D goes on to echo statements made by previous supporters of the legislation, claiming a lack in eligibility for in-state tuition has hindered undocumented students' ability to pursue degrees in higher education. The organization supports “any legislation that takes vital steps towards education equality by making higher education more accessible for undocumented students including but not limited to … broadening the number of students eligible for in state tuition through lowering the in-state residency requirement.”

Yanil Teron, Executive Director, Center for Latino Progress: Ms. Teron stands in support of H.B 6844 and believes further steps need to be taken, in order to increase access for undocumented students when it comes to receiving in-state tuition rates. Ultimately, she argues “[n]o other state requires four years of in-state high school as a condition of receiving in-state tuition.” By providing these undocumented students with access to in-state tuition, Ms. Teron believes a more “realistic path to college” will be created, ultimately leading to “improved high school graduation rates and increased college matriculation.”

Mark Overmyer-Velazques, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, UConn: Mr. Overmyer-Velazquez testified in support of H.B 6844, citing the expansion of in-state tuition eligibility, as not only an ethical obligation, but a smart decision when it comes to improving the economy.

Stephanie Marquez, student at the University of Connecticut: Ms. Marquez testified in support of H.B 6844, echoing statements made by C4D, claiming she is in support of any “legislation that takes vital steps towards education equality by making higher education more accessible for undocumented students.”

As someone who migrated from Peru at the age of 5, Ms. Marquez is currently an undocumented student at UConn, challeneged with the financial obstacles of pursuing her degree. Although she believes the 2011 legislation regarding in-state tuition eligibility to some undocumented students was necessary, she believes additional steps must be taken, in order to provide a more affordable path of pursuing one's higher education.

Meghan Vesel, Former Deputy Director, Brazilian Immigrant Center: Ms. Vesel expressed her support for H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to those of C4D and other supporters of the bill.

Adan Martinez, Intern, Worker and Immigrants' Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School: Mr. Martinez testified in support of H.B 8644, stating that “[n]ot only does unequal access to education hurt [undocumented students], it hurts the state.” He refers to these students as potential “engines of economic growth,” who will help increase state tax revenue and improve the overall quality of Connecticut.

Junior Sierra, Student, Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, CT testified in support of the bill stating he is a dreamer, undocumented, unafraid and unashamed. He is 1 of thousands of students that will be graduating and forced into a statistic of 5 to 10% of undocumented students who will not be able to pursue some form of higher education, at the low spectrum that would be 3,250 students out of 65,000 that graduate each year. He states he is barred from getting scholarships, student loans and state financial aid. Barred form pools that he and his family have contributed to. Many undocumented students who live in Connecticut but are 1 or 2 years short of the residency requirement will not have access to state financial aid. He argues undocumented students can contribute up to three times more money into these funds and not have access to any of it. Stating “I am forced to pay for my education and forced to contribute to pools for financial aid that I am not eligible for”.  He supports moving this bill forward so all students will have equity, will have the dream of higher education and will graduate and contribute to the State of Connecticut.  He is currently a senior in a High School where he studies Arabic and dreams of going to college to study engineering.  He has developed an invention to assist developmental disabled people and won local and state science fairs and received a prize of 20,000 dollars for school. If he is able to pursue higher education it would “allow him to prove he is somebody in a situation he has no control over and define what he can and cannot do”. He closed with “as an older brother this bill would empower him to assist his younger brother and sister to go to college.”

Alison Martinez-Carrasco, Member of CT Students for a DREAM: Ms. Martinez-Carrasco testified in favor of H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to others who testified, as to why she supports the bill.

Luis Recoder-Nunez, Resident of New Britain: Mr. Nunez expressed his support for H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to those of C4D and other supporters of the bill.

Kenneth Reveiz, Member of CT Students for a DREAM: Mr. Reveiz expressed his support for H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to those of C4D and other supporters of the bill.

Joseph Patrick Veloso, Member of CT Students for a DREAM: Mr. Veloso expressed his support for H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to those of C4D and other supporters of the bill.

Jessica Manfredini, Student and Member of CT Students for a DREAM: Ms. Manfredini expressed his support for H.B 6844, citing reasons similar to those of C4D and other supporters of the bill.

Jesus Cortes-Sanchez: Mr. Cortes-Sanchez testified in favor of H.B 6844

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None expressed.

Reported by: Max Macelis, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 20, 2015