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Oregon lawmakers expand ‘tuition equity’ for undocumented students


All students educated in Oregon, regardless of immigration status, will receive access to in-state tuition for graduate programs at public universities under legislation passed by the Oregon House of Representatives Wednesday night, supporters said.

Senate Bill 859, which passed 52-6, ensures students who qualify for tuition equity in undergraduate programs in Oregon’s public universities are also eligible for in-state tuition in graduate programs.

“This legislation is about strengthening our existing tuition equity law,” said chief sponsor Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland). “Ultimately, every one of Oregon’s students deserves equal access to our public universities, and with this bill, we can ensure that that includes every university program.”

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2787, granting in-state tuition at public universities for undocumented students who demonstrate the intent to become United States citizens and who meet certain attendance requirements in Oregon schools. Currently, according to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, 250 undergraduate students qualify for tuition equity.

Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) is the co-chief sponsor of the legislation. A bicameral group of 25 legislative Democrats signed on as sponsors.

Senate Bill 859 now goes to Gov. Kate Brown.

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