(CN) – A federal judge refused to certify a class of college applicants who were denied in-state tuition in Florida because their parents are undocumented immigrants.
The named plaintiffs, natural-born citizens living in Florida, said that the State Board of Education refused to classify them as residents for tuition purposes because their parents could not establish legal residence in the state.
To qualify for lower in-state tuition rates, public university applicants in Florida must prove they have resided legally in the state for the 12 consecutive months preceding enrollment. If the applicants are claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, the parents must prove continuous legal residence in the state as well.
The plaintiffs, all dependents under 24, claimed that the state wrongfully classified them as “non-residents” who would face higher tuition rates because they could not establish their parents’ lawful immigration status.
They argued the classification violated their constitutional rights, and sought class certification.
U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore denied their request Thursday, finding that a class action would be unduly burdensome.
Moore rejected the claims that the case alleged by the individual plaintiffs would become moot once they reach the age of 24 and become independent.
None of the named plaintiffs are over 20, and some of them are only 18, which gives them six years until independent status would moot their claims, the ruling states.
Moore said there was no “imminent threat of mootness” requiring class certification to protect the putative class members’ interests.