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Landmark Case

Wendy Ruiz, et al. v. Gerard Robinson, et al.

The state of Florida denied in-state college tuition rates to U.S. citizens living in the state but unable to prove the lawful immigration status of their parents – an unconstitutional policy that more than tripled the cost of tuition. SPLC filed a federal lawsuit that ended the practice.

The lawsuit charged that these policies of the Florida State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors are unconstitutional because they discriminate against U.S. citizen children due to the immigration status of their parents.

The difference in tuition for students affected by the policies was staggering. At Miami Dade College, the cost per term in the two-year associate degree programs is $1,266 for residents, compared to $4,524 for students classified as non-residents. The cost per term in the four-year bachelor’s degree programs is $1,400 for residents, compared to $6,246 for non-residents.

Many talented American students who lived in Florida either delayed or decided to forego a college education due to the higher tuition rates they had to pay by being wrongly classified as “non-residents.”

Almost a year after filing the case, a federal judge ruled that the policies violate the U.S. Constitution. As a result, promising young American citizens – who have lived in Florida most, if not all, of their lives – will no longer be forced to pay triple the college tuition rates paid by their fellow Florida classmates.