New bill would equalize college tuition for every NC resident
Posted April 8, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — A new Senate bill could equalize the cost of college for every North Carolina resident, regardless of citizenship status.
Senate Bill 463, filed by Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, would allow an individual who has attended school in North Carolina for at least three consecutive years immediately prior to graduation and received a high school diploma or a GED in the state to pay in-state tuition at University of North Carolina system schools.
Keny Murillo was the valedictorian of his high school class, but because he is from Honduras, he always knew college would be costly.
"(I was) graduating and knowing that I wasn't going to go anywhere for college," Murillo said. "The reason being is because I have to pay out-of-state tuition for college, which can be three to four times the cost."
Murillo moved to North Carolina when he was 9 years old.
"I started one or two jobs, but I was working three jobs at a time, and I enrolled at Durham Tech and Wake Tech," he said.
Murillo said he was able to afford the tuition at a community college, but he knew it would be impossible to afford the cost of a four-year institution.
Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, president and CEO of El Centro Hispano, a group dedicated to strengthening the Hispanic community, said it is important for Latino students to be able to attend college.
"Not only Latinos, but the minorities in general," she said.
Murillo said his goal is to stay in North Carolina to practice medicine.
"I want to make a difference in my community, and that's what I want to do," Murillo said. "I grew up here, and I'm not planning on leaving."
Similar legislation has not been successful in the past. Senate Bill 463 is the latest in a series of attempts from lawmakers to pass the measure.
“We’re not there yet,” said Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, whose committee has jurisdiction over the bill right now. “We haven’t discussed it yet, but I don’t see it going anywhere.”
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said Senate Republicans had not discussed whether they would take up the bill or not.