It's at the final vote: a decision may be made as early as tomorrow on a bill that allows in-state tuition for undocumented students in Oregon.
A college education is something many students strive for, but for 65 thousand undocumented high school graduates in the U.S., it's a pipe dream. The main obstacle: cost - meaning most can only attend a community college - like RCC - unable to afford 4 year institutions.
Johnathan Chavez Baez couldn't afford to go to his dream college.
"When I graduated I was undocumented. I didn't get the opportunity to go to my dream school. I had to go to a community college."
Now, he helps students at SOU experiencing the same struggles he did.
"Keeping their hopes up and hopefully tomorrow that we pass this bill they will have a real chance to go to school and get their education."
Currently House Bill 2787 is before Senate for final vote . It will allow undocumented students in Oregon to pay in-state tuition versus out of state rates, but only if they graduated from high school in Oregon, attended Oregon schools for three years and U.S. schools for five, and have the intent to seek legal status.
"For students who grew up in this state and contributed to the taxes in this state, I can't imagine not being able to attend a university in the state that they call home."
Currently, these students pay out of state rates, which are 2-3 times higher. For instance at SOU it for it's a about 5,000 dollars a year, but the bill is over 15,000 out of state.
Not to mention they don't qualify for federal financial aid.
"It's so easy for them to get discouraged knowing they might not be able to ever become a teacher, an engineer, a doctor.'
The bill's arleady cleared the
House and Governor Kitzhaber's declared his support.
"To see their eyes light up that this might actually happen, it's undescribable, there's no words to say what their feeling, because it's going to be huge if this passes."
For now, Chavez Baez is crossing his fingers, hoping for a decision that gives so many an opportunity so long withheld.
Many states have already passed in-state tuition, including: Texas, California, and Utah.
On the flip side- Alabama and South Carolina have banned undocumented students from attending public universities.