|Updated: 3/21 9:57 am
||Published: 3/20 5:59 pm
An undocumented student stood before State Senators’ Wednesday to speak out against a bill that would require students to be U.S. citizens to get in-state tuition rates.
Representative Emily Virgin sponsored Senate Bill 243. It passed the Senate last week and headed to the house.
"We need them to support us because we are members of society," said Kasey Hughart, the Co-founder of Dream Act Oklahoma.
She told FOX23, forcing these students to pay out-of-state tuition rates will discourage many of them from getting degrees.
Most have applied for deferred action, which gives them permission to get a job to pay for college. If their tuition status changed, it would be an even bigger bill they would receive.
"We're here to contribute and to be fully integrated as U.S. citizens and we want them to know these laws are very discriminatory," she said.
This year, tuition and fees at OU cost an in-state student $8,705 and a little over $20,000 for an out-of-state student. Undocumented students aren't eligible for Pell grants and Federal loans.
"I believe everyone should have the opportunity to pursue a decent life regardless of where they're from," said Hughart.
Representative Virgin told FOX23 she wasn't targeting undocumented students with the bill. Virgin says the wording on the bill about being a U.S. citizen to receive in-state tuition was changed after she signed off on the bill.
She says her two options now are to try and amend the bill or letting it die in session in the house.
Virgin says it's a decision she will make after talking with the lawmakers who changed the bill. If the bill ends up passing, it's not clear how it would affect undocumented students who are already enrolled.