Oregon taxpayers on hook for ‘free’ college education for undocumented aliens

Sen Doug Whitsett

Thanks to legislation passed by Democrat majority

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

During the 2013 regular session, the Legislative Assembly enacted House Bill 2787. It was better known as the “Tuition Equity Act,” and passed with a significant bipartisan majority vote. That Act established eligibility for in-state tuition for students that demonstrated the intent to become United States citizens and who met certain previous attendance requirements in schools both in Oregon and other U.S. states and territories.

The Legislative Fiscal Report for that bill estimated that only 38 undocumented alien students would take advantage of the opportunity to pay in-state tuition to attend an Oregon University during the 2013-15 budget period. The report estimated that 80 students would participate during the 2015-17 budget period. The “tuition equity” bill did not affect Oregon community colleges because they do not have residency requirements.

Supporters of the “Tuition Equity Act” argued that it would cause little cost to Oregonians. They further inferred that they would ask for neither future expansion of eligibility for in-state tuition nor request eligibility for financial aid for undocumented alien students. I voted against HB 2787, not least because I did not believe their words.

University and community college students who are neither United States citizens nor eligible non-citizens are not eligible for federal grant-in-aid programs. Undocumented aliens are prohibited from even filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is Oregon’s own taxpayer-funded grant-in-aid program for college students, is not constrained by federal law.

On party-line votes, the Democrat majority passed SB 932-C this year. It significantly enlarged the number of undocumented aliens who are eligible for in-state tuition. Further, the bill created new eligibility for Oregon undocumented alien university and community college students to receive Oregon funded grant-in-aid as well as student loans. I believe it will serve as a beacon for undocumented alien students to come to Oregon for what amounts to a free college education at the expense of Oregon taxpayers.

The Legislative Fiscal Report on SB 932-C estimates that as many as 1,000 undocumented alien students may receive Opportunity Grants the first year, and as many as 4,000 may be participating within four years. At only $1,000 per term, the cost could reach $12 million per year! The fiscal report does not appear to contemplate the in-migration of students that I predict.

Not only does SB 932-C make undocumented alien students eligible for Oregon taxpayer-paid tuition and expenses, it likely gives them preference over documented resident citizens. According to the bill’s fiscal impact statement, grants and loans for unauthorized immigrants “may be skewed towards an expected family contribution rate of zero or close to zero, which would give this population a higher priority for grant awards.”

Majority Democrats also passed HB 2407, making further changes to the existing program. That bill ensures that grants will be made to students with the highest financial need, and where possible, prioritize funding for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. That priority will be based upon an “equity lens” established by rule by the Oregon Education Investment Board. This “equity lens” appears to be focused on contributing financial aid to low-income undocumented alien students.

They also enacted HB 3063-A, which amended statute to include “foundations of community colleges” in the existing program that distributes money to community colleges. The program was created specifically to increase the number of underserved, low-income and first-generation college-bound students who enroll in community college and make progress toward a degree or certificate. This too appears to be focused on impoverished, first-generation and, perhaps, undocumented immigrants.

The bill appropriates $3 million of General Fund money to that program. Portland Community College Future Connect is an existing community college foundation that will be eligible to receive the funding. Senator Dembrow, who carried and strongly advocated for both SB 932-C and HB 3063-A on the Senate floor, is an adjunct professor at Portland Community College.

Unfortunately, too many “legislative deals” are not kept. Many of those legislators who voted for the “Tuition Equity Act” in 2013 rightly feel betrayed. Assurances that their vote would not “open the floodgates” for undocumented alien students to attend Oregon colleges and universities with taxpayer funded Opportunity Grants were insincere.

Egregiously, some legislators are now saying they do not even remember giving those assurances. So much for an open and transparent legislative process.

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls

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Posted by at 05:45 | Posted in Education, Illegal Immigration, OR 78th Legislative Session | 12 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Over N. Out

    Illegals are illegals no matter what they think there’re something else.
    Mothers may aye remind them…to go back in line and start from scratch their paradigm quest form a lawful start and stop fooking with Ameirca’s citizenship requirements and acting up like their si patron drug lord hero and porcine piggly wig let, “El Chapo” Gutzman. That is all!

  • oregongrown

    Excellent, detailed, insightful article from Sen Whitsett. He always comes through.

    But what an abomination the Oregon Democratic party is. They are robbing us blind in the name of “Equity.” Equity for who, now? Certainly not for the working LEGAL Oregonians, who are getting hammered to pay for all the FREE stuff for ILLEGAL aliens.

    I can’t stomach the Oregon Democrats. They are smashing us right and left. They are all filthy liars. Looked at how this has morphed into MILLIONS more FREE everything for illegal aliens, when it started out as in-state tuition, and now it’s a full blown FREE ride, that will mean preferential treatment for illegal aliens above what legal citizens will get.

    It is despicable.

    • Over N. Out

      Bingo, Bango and fill in the blanks! No free ride for any illegal Bongo twanger, esp, maneuverers tossing in like La Raza, MEChA, Latino Kings and drug lord supplicants of El Gordo Gutzman of Methico.

  • Rick Lakehomer

    Just another example why I refer to Oregon as POORegon. One more example of Mordor on the Willamette. Our state is being being ruined by democrat, progressive regressive stupidity.

    Excellent article.

    • guest

      Aye concur!

  • RRStubbs

    When you got a Republican Party that only embraces moderates and a Senate Minority Leader like Ted Ferrolli who doesn’t want to deal with social issues or fact based scientific evidence that there is no global warming or a promoter of Sustainable Development then what do you expect? I have watched this circus go on since I returned from Vietnam in 1966 and nothing has changed except we get dumber and dumber with each change of climate that takes place 4 times per year.

  • Digital Revolution
    • guest

      Dem it all revulsion of anything that smacks of common sense wherein being retained in safe keeping with common sense ideals.
      Reality know all: Be wary of the left wing paradigmers, twit tax and spend until the irises of their benefactor’s eyes turn into blank holes with no means to drill the well deeper, by jolly robber!

  • Marc

    The only way a person, any person, can get ahead in this crazy world of ours is to go to college. It is very expensive to go. People of all types need our help to do this. So, this a good thing. Not something to be ridiculed and joked about. All peoples of the earth our are brothers and sisters…and all are entitled to as much help as we can extend them…and then they will get college degrees and get good jobs and be happy, productive residents.

    • guest

      Tale that out to all the GED’s who’ve have gone on to intellectual reality where wishbones in FX are set aside for backbones attending the collage of USA!

  • thevillageidiot

    Why should we the taxpayers pay for something that can be had for less if the student is motivated.
    here in oregon advanced classes taken through Chemeketa (community colleges) count as college credits (Free). I use Chemeketa as the example because my daughter did. CLEP test out of the basics as much as possible. the rest is relatively in expensive. all you have left will be the core classes. Or go home to your own country where the education is free. Besides who says all students are cut out to go to college? what about apprenticeship programs. Vo tech (it is an old term) is much less expensive and may be more suitable. some higher ed is necessary but not necessarily college. Kitz’s 40-40-20 idea is out to lunch. how does the government know what industry requires? answer government doesn’t it can only mandate or buy votes. The idea of the Tuition Equity Act, is the purchasing of votes. Taxpayers WAKE UP.

  • Great article very interesting, i agree on most of your points, things need to change for the better

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