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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

MA Lawmakers Approve Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students

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Monday, August 14, 2023   

Students won big in the recently approved Massachusetts state budget.

Lawmakers approved an additional $150 million in financial aid for students attending public colleges and expanded in-state tuition and financial aid eligibility to undocumented students.

Sarang Sekhavat, chief of staff for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said the passage of tuition equity benefits far more than the students.

"One out of a family who can go to school can really make a huge impact on everyone else in the family," Sekhavat pointed out.

There are an estimated 11,000 undocumented students enrolled in Massachusetts public colleges, and roughly 1,000 graduate high school each year.

State lawmakers also approved $20 million for the MassReconnect program to allow those 25 years and older to attend community college for free, along with additional funding to provide free community college for all residents in 2025.

Sekhavat emphasized it is an impactful step in moving Massachusetts closer to providing debt-free public higher education.

"The impact's not just going to be today getting these kids into school," Sekhavat noted. "But even down the line as they don't have to make these student loan repayments."

Education advocates said many of the gains made in the state budget are due to last year's passage of the Fair Share Amendment, which is estimated to bring in roughly $2 billion each year in new revenue for public education and transportation needs.


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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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