Sunshine Edition
6:12 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

How Florida's In-State Tuition Bill Would Change The Life Of A Homestead Student

Mayra Rubio was 3 months-old when she moved to Homestead with her brother and parents from Guadalajara, Mexico.

After she graduated from South Dade Senior High, she realized she could not afford the out-of-state tuition for public colleges and universities. Undocumented students do not get the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates.

Mayra used to work on her father's farm when she couldn't afford to be a college student. Now that she attends Miami-Dade College, she still offers to lend a hand at the fruit stand her father manages.
Mayra used to work on her father's farm when she couldn't afford to be a college student. Now that she attends Miami-Dade College, she still offers to lend a hand at the fruit stand her father manages.
Credit Mayra Rubio

So instead, Mayra worked with her father in the fields and groves of South Miami-Dade County. She picked and packed avocados and mangos.

"I would see my friends move on [and] pursue their dreams," she says. "I felt stuck, like I wasn't moving anywhere."

Florida lawmakers have been debating allowing students like Mayra to pay in-state college tuition rates for public colleges and universities. The Legislature passed the measure Friday, and Gov. Scott has said he will sign the bill.

But Mayra didn’t have to wait for the vote. She’d already been paying in-state tuition as a student at Miami-Dade College after her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application was approved.

But DACA benefits expire after two years, and Mayra has just completed her first year as a business major. Without HB 851, the in-state tuition bill, she wouldn't be able to continue her education.

"Many of our families are low-income families," she says, "and they don't make the sufficient amount of money that we need to get our kids through college, like my family."

Now that the bill has passed, Mayra will be able to work for the life her parents hoped she'd have in this country.

"They brought us to this country with the purpose of us getting farther in life than them, and the high [cost] of out-of-state tuition is making that almost impossible," she says. "So it [just makes] a great, great difference in our lives."