Vanderbilt University poll gives hope to undocumented students - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vanderbilt University poll gives hope to undocumented students

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A new poll shows two out of three Tennessee voters support in-state college tuition for undocumented students. Last month, the idea narrowly failed in the state legislature.

20-year-old, Alondra Gomez wants to become a nurse practitioner or doctor one day.

She recently finished up a one year technical program at Chattanooga State for medical assisting. Gomez hopes to attend UTC in the fall, if she can afford it.

"In terms of being able to go to school, that's the biggest barrier, finding a way to pay for it," Alondra Gomez, an undocumented student said.

Gomez says she left Mexico with her parents and moved to Chattanooga when she was three years old. If she decides to attend UTC, she'll have to pay out of state tuition.

"Chattanooga has done so much for me and I want to be able to give back, but knowing I may not be able to even finish my first year of college without going into thousands of dollars in debt, it's really terrifying," Gomez said.

Poll results from Vanderbilt University show two out of three registered voters in the state support in-state tuition for undocumented students.

State Representative Gerald McCormick said the idea might have a better chance next year.

"I think with the new president in Washington and the atmosphere that came with that and the immigration debates during the campaign probably made it more difficult to pass this year," State Rep. Gerald McCormick, (R) - Chattanooga said.

McCormick supports the bill. Last month, critics argued it would make the state a magnet and possibly overcrowd schools.

"They can still go to college. We're not saying they can't be educated, but I just think it's a burden on Tennessee taxpayers if we allow illegals to have in-state tuition," State Rep. Dawn White, (R) Murfreesboro said in April.

It failed.

The bill would have required students to graduate from a Tennessee high school and attend for at least two years.

Gomez said the poll results give her hope the idea will become law one day.

"I still wouldn't have any financial aid from the government or any college scholarships, but that dream is now more attainable," Gomez said.

The bill's sponsor, State Representative Mark White (R) - Memphis, plans to bring it up again next year,

He said 13,000 undocumented students are enrolled in Tennessee elementary, middle and high schools right now. 

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