NASHVILLE -- Sen. Todd Gardenhire's bill granting in-state college tuition rates to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants cleared a key hurdle today.
Following lengthy debate, Senate Finance Committee members approved the bill on a 10-1 vote.
The bill now goes to the Senate Calendar Committee where it will be scheduled for Senate floor consideration.
Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, says the bill would apply to students who have resided in Tennessee for at least one year and graduated from an in-state high school.
Currently, the students have to pay out-of-state tuition to attend University of Tennessee or Tennessee Board of Regents institutions. That's because in-state tuition is granted to students whose parents are "domiciled" in Tennessee. But their parents who came to the U.S. illegally are not considered residents of the state.
The rates for out-of-state students are nearly triple that of in-state tuition and Gardenhire says that's preventing many of the students, who are U.S. citizens, from attending college.
The companion bill is moving in the House as well.
Gardenhire and Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, have a second bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students who have resided in Tennessee for at least five years and graduated from a state high school. That measure is having a tougher time in the Legislature.