Putting Nebraska Students First

Educational opportunity for all Nebraska students was the focus of a committee hearing at the State Capitol last week. The Education Committee heard testimony on LB 1001, which would repeal Nebraska’s in-state tuition law—an important educational policy for Nebraska’s future. This law allows Nebraska students who are undocumented to pay in-state tuition rates if they resided in and attended school in Nebraska for three years; graduated from a Nebraska high school or completed a GED; and submitted an affidavit stating intent to file for legal residency. Nebraska’s statute is similar to laws in nine other states, which have been enacted since 2001.

The members of the Education Committee heard inspiring testimony from a wide spectrum of Nebraskan society—including educational, legal, community, and faith perspectives—demonstrating the depth of institutional and community support for Nebraska’s in-state tuition law. Speakers included J.B. Milliken, President of the University of Nebraska; the Nebraska State Education Association; the Nebraska State Board of Education; Nebraska’s P-16 initiative (coalition of 27 organizations in business, government and education); the Nebraska Hispanic Bar Association; the Nebraska Catholic Conference; Nebraska Appleseed; and many others. Three students, who know first-hand the challenges of attaining a post-secondary degree, also provided moving testimony about the importance of providing in-state tuition to Nebraska students.

Our in-state tuition law is smart policy, is consistent with federal law, and is in our best interest. Educated students are a significant asset to Nebraska’s future for communities across the state. Nebraska’s in-state tuition law also complies with relevant Federal law, which specifically allows states to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented students under certain conditions. Finally, our law does not deny opportunities for other students, but simply allows all Nebraska high school graduates to pay the same in-state tuition rates in order to pursue higher education at our state colleges and universities.

The question is whether we as a community place value upon creating and retaining educated and productive residents. These youths are not strangers among us; they are our children. They have grown up in Nebraska, played on their high school sports teams, and been a part of debate and student council. They are our state’s future generation of leadership. It is clearly in our best interest to facilitate their access to higher education. We cannot afford to lose their skills talents and energy to other states.

You can add your voice: Tell the Education Committee to Say NO to LB1001

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