BOSTON (AP) — After racking up nearly $45,000 in debt paying out-of-state tuition rates to attend the University of Massachusetts, Filipe Zamborlini said the financial strains forced him to leave school after three semesters and put his goal of a college degree on hold.
But Zamborlini, 23, said Monday he stands to benefit from a directive from Gov. Deval Patrick that would allow the children of some illegal immigrants to attend public state colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rate, which would cut costs by 50 percent or more for some students.
“I definitely feel there is a burden that has been lifted off my back,” said Zamborlini, who came to the U.S. at age 12 with his mother. He said he earned his shot at college after attending a Boston high school where he graduated with honors and ran track.
“I’m a Bostonian, you can’t take that out of me,” he said. “Even though I was born in Brazil, I’m a Bostonian in every single way.”
In a letter sent Monday to the Board of Higher Education, Patrick said immigrants who, like Zamborlini, have obtained a work permit through a new federal program instituted by President Barack Obama would be eligible to pay the lower rates. The governor said the directive was consistent with an existing state policy that allows people with work permits and valid Massachusetts residency to qualify for in-state tuition.
Obama in June launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, granting immigrants aged 30 and younger two-year reprieves from deportation if they arrived before age 16, had a clean record and met other requirements. The president left it up to individual states to decide whether immigrants should get benefits such as resident tuition.
“It’s a step in the right direction but it’s not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, we still need that,” Patrick told reporters on Monday, adding that his directive would impact a “relatively small number” of students.