Kansas Sparks Debate Over Tuition Costs

A large, predominantly pro-immigration crowd gathered for a House committee hearing on a measure that would repeal a stature forcing Kansas students without legal residency to pay out-of-state-tuition at Kansas universities. The current statute allows students who graduate from Kansas high schools and have lived in the state for at least three years to pay in-state tuition.

Representative Ponka-We Victors, the bill’s chief proponent and a Native American Indian, spurred emotion throughout the crowd after wrapping up a series of questions to the bill’s chief proponent, Secretary of State Kris Kobach , saying, “I think it’s funny Mr. Kobach, because when you mention illegal immigrant, I think of all of you.”

Georgina Hernandez, a Wichita State University graduate and illegal immigrant, said in order for her to pay for college, she had to work two jobs since immigrants are not eligible for federal student aid. This bill would further push students away from attending college.

Fred Logan of the Kansas Board of Regents noted that the subjects in discussion were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, and should be treated innocently. In the state, of the 630 immigrants accessing in-state tuition, more than 500 attend community colleges.