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The Importance of In-State Tuition for Refugees

By Tania Ramirez

The Georgia General Assembly has had a busy session in 2022. Aside from all the legislation being proposed, tuition equity has been crucial during the 2022 session. House Bill 932 (HB 932) is a bipartisan bill that proposes for noncitizen students with certain refugee, special immigrant (SIV holders), or humanitarian parole status under federal laws to be classified as in-state for tuition purposes. 

Currently, all personnel that classify as refugees must abide by a one-year waiting period after settling in Georgia to qualify for an in-state tuition rate. With this bill, refugees would not be required to wait for the one-year waiting period and would be allowed to be eligible for in-state tuition upon settling in Georgia. The difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition rates can be as high as three times more than regular in-state tuition. 

As refugees settle in Georgia, they are forced to start over and begin a new life. Despite the obstacles of starting over, they realize that they have finally found a place they can call home. However, they are set back due to the expenses of attending college. Although it may sound easy to wait a year to attend college and be granted an in-state tuition rate, many lose hope of returning to college because they feel it is now too late. With the passing of HB 932, refugees can rapidly invest in their futures and essentially create more career opportunities in Georgia. Rep. Wes Cantrell states that there are currently more jobs available than people to fill them. Granting in-state tuition for refugees will allow them to pursue higher education and fill open job positions.

In addition, HB 932 could play a crucial role in covering Afghan nationals that supported the U.S. and were evacuated this past summer and granted humanitarian parole. Georgia has accepted more than 1,700 Afghan humanitarian parolees and hundreds of other refugees and SIV holders, most of which are college-ready. Also, many Afghans being evacuated and brought to Georgia risked their lives for the U.S. by providing security and translation for U.S. soldiers. 

In a recent hearing at the Higher Education Committee on February 23, 2022, more than a dozen Georgia leaders favored this bill and expressed their support for it. Because the bill is highly supported, our state legislature needs to vote on it and allow it to go into effect. The quicker it goes into effect, the faster refugees can further expand their education.

Works Cited

“Georgia HB932: 2021-2022: Regular Session.” LegiScan, https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/HB932/2021

Grinspan, Lautaro. “Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Help Refugees Attend Georgia Colleges.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 31 Jan. 2022, https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-news/lawmakers-introduce-bill-to-help-refugees-attend-georgia-colleges/6OLIASZ6OFHRJMLEBPRIRDVW5I/?outputType=amp.

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