★ Governor Signs In-State Tuition Legislation

Joins 17 other states in the U.S. that legislates in-state tuition rates to undocumented students
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Above: José González, Michelle (DePlante) Carr, Marta V. Martínez and Roberto González back together on October 18, 2021 to witness the signing of the bill.
October 18, 2021 | For 19+ years, the members of CASO, had been working independently for passage of in-state tuition legislation.

In 2008, CASO was formed by immigration attorney Roberto González, Marta V. Martínez, who, as head of the César Chavez Scholarship Fund, had been providing mini-grants to undocumented students since 2004, and José González a Providence Schools employee and education advocate. In 2009 they were joined by Michelle (DePlante) Carr of the International Institute of Rhode Island, Kara Cebulko, a professor at Providence College, and in 201 by Tam Tran, a graduate student who helped pass in-state tuition in California before enrolling at Brown University.

The CASO team helped Rep. Grace Díaz in 2009 craft the language of the bill that exists today. Members of CASO were instrumental in working closely with Gov. Chaffee and then the RIBoG in the passage of the policy in 2011.

Today, by way of the Tam Tran Scholarship Fund (so named after the untimely death of Tran in 2010), CASO continues to offer scholarships to undocumented students and provides support to students as they enroll in all local colleges – public or private – who find themselves unable to maneuver through challenging hurdles that may arise.

Martínez, who has continued to work alongside Rep. Díaz for the past 17 years of submitted legislation, said she felt deep emotion watching the bill being presented before committee and then the floor. “It was bittersweet witnessing passage of the bill this year. For years members of CASO, students and community allies filled committee rooms and testified in person before various committees, only to leave feeling defeated. This year, as I sat in front of my computer screen, I held the original sign I made 19 years ago and then cried as the final vote took place! I yearned to hug other members of CASO, plus some of the students who would benefit from the legislation. Instead, I began sending text messages to as many of the students who would be directly affected as soon as the final vote was counted.”

Martínez adds that the passage of the The Rhode Island Student Success Act is first of many priorities for the undocumented community of Rhode Island, and that includes gaining rights to a driver’s license. “We hope this can be accomplished early next legislative season.”
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Inspiring Stories |
Yaruska Ordinola

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Inspiring Stories |
Victor Morente

The Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities (CASO) is a volunteer group of concerned citizens and students in Rhode Island that promote and support a pathway to higher education for undocumented students in the State of Rhode Island.

Through this website, CASO provides resources including information about In-State Tuition, legislation and educational information for young undocumented and
DACAmented individuals, educators and other allies.

We also manage the Tam Tran Scholarship Fund, the only fund in Rhode Island created with the sole purpose of providing financial assistance by way of scholarships to undocumented students in Rhode Island.