Bills would exclude rights of citizens of other states

Letter date: 
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Letter publisher:
Letter author: 
David Olen Cross
Letter body: 

A group of 13 Oregon legislators has introduced legislation (House Bill 2787 and Senate Bill 10) on both sides of the state Capitol that would grant in-state tuition to a special interest group of international students illegally in the country.

One of the great misnomers used by proponents of in-state tuition for international students illegally in the country is to describe both pieces of legislation as “tuition equity” when what both HB 2787 and SB 10 would do is to exclude those same benefits to legal lifelong American citizens in neighboring states.

Problematic with the mirrored House and Senate bills is that neither one has a sunset clause that would limit the number of illegal international students who could receive in-state tuition in the future. A lack of a sunset clause if either piece of legislation becomes state law will place a heavy economic burden on Oregon’s higher education system, cause an increase in tuition rates for students attending the state’s public universities, and cause an increased taxpayer burden to support state’s higher education system.

Crunching some numbers from neighboring Western Oregon University, for years 2012-2013, the estimated undergraduate tuition and fees (15 credits per term) for an Oregon resident is $8,529 per year, while an international student is $21,114 per year. Under both HB2787 / SB10, WOU would be required to cut individual tuition and fees costs for illegal international students attending the university by $12,585 per year.

WOU would lose over a four-year period for every illegal international student attending the university $50,340.

Also problematic with the mirrored legislation is the limited amount of years that would be required for illegal international students to spend in Oregon’s public schools to receive the benefit of instate tuition. A time of just three years attending an Oregon high school or getting a GED at a local community college is not long enough for them or their foreign national parents, likewise illegally in the country, to have contributed enough in taxes to the bricks and mortar, the infrastructure, of Oregon’s higher education system to merit in-state tuition.

Although Oregon taxpayers are often generous when it comes to the issues surrounding funding K-12 and higher education, what might be considered as real “tuition equity” by the state’s taxpayers is that illegal international students must have completed at a minimum of K-12 in the state’s public education system to be eligible to receive in-state tuition.

A final recognizable flaw with the House and Senate bills is they fail to put students who are United States citizens in the state (residents), students who are U.S. citizens from other states (non-residents), and students who are foreign nationals (legal international students with visas from their countries of origin) first in line to attend Oregon’s public four-year universities, particularly in limited enrollment programs.

Students legally present in the country should always be given first priority to enroll in the state’s public universities.

Oregonians should contact their state representative and senator and tell them to “Vote No” on both HB 2787 and SB 10, in-state tuition for a special-interest group of international students illegally in the country.