‘DACA’ tuition bill voted in by Senate Committee

Senate Committee votes on DACA tuition bill

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Bills pushing cheaper college tuition for undocumented students have been making rounds in the Virginia legislature.

Just last year, students under DACA (Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals), pushed a House bill that would allow DACA recipients - or Dreamers - to pay in-state tuition at state schools.

Similar bills have been voted down in the past, but another vote came to head in the Senate Committee this past Thursday, introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax).

“It was very nerve-racking. The decision definitely came down to the final vote," said undocumented immigrant and Reynolds Community College student Ernestine Locsin.

She and other Dreamers enrolled at local colleges attended the hearing.

Locsin first came to the United States in 2001, living the ‘American dream’ by playing sports and graduating high school with honors, until her academic journey came to a screeching halt because of her undocumented status.

“A four-year college just got too expensive because of the out-of-state tuition, because at that point, the in-state was not available to us, so I had to stop for six years”, she said.

She worked full time for the six years until she decided to pursue her education again.

On the Jan. 17 hearing, Locsin and the other students pleaded their case to the Senate Committee.

When it was all said and done, the bill passed with a narrow eight to seven vote.

Locsin says if the bill is signed into law, it would provide some much needed financial relief for her and other dreamers.

“When I was paying out-of-state, two or three classes would run me $5,000-$6,000 at a community college," she said. "And then now I’m taking two classes and I spend $1,200.”

Locsin hopes that similar bills can eventually be voted in and signed around the country.

“We’re not here for handouts, we’re not here for citizenship. We just want to go to college,” she adds.

The bill is now headed to the Senate Finance Committee before moving forward.

NBC12 reached out to the seven senators who voted against the bill, but we have yet to hear back.

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