March 20, 2023

Small Cost, Bigger Payoff: Florida’s Tuition Equity for Dreamers Law

Executive Summary

A 2023 legislative proposal announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis would repeal Florida’s tuition equity law, which requires that colleges, universities, and postsecondary institutions waive out-of-state tuition for certain undocumented students who graduated high school in the state.

Also known as “Dreamers,” after the federal DREAM Act, these young people were brought to the United States as children, and often do not remember living in any other country.

Florida Policy Institute found that while the cost of waiving out-of-state fees for Dreamers is nominal, it leads to significant economic benefits. Specifically:

  • The number of Dreamers granted out-of-state fee waivers under the 2014 law has dropped since 2018-19, but 6,500 Florida undergraduates still benefitted from them in the 2021-22 academic year alone, and almost 36,000 have benefitted since 2017.
  • The majority of out-of-state fee waivers are granted to college and university students, with only a small number of technical college/charter career center attendees receiving them.
  • Less than 1 percent of all enrolled undergraduates receive nonresident waivers each year, at an average annual cost of $41.3 million (from 2017-18 to 2020-21).

Repealing the state’s tuition equity law would impede young immigrants’ ability to thrive, earn higher wages, and contribute further to Florida’s economic prosperity.

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