041024KP0026 rSPRINGFIELD – To support the educational aspirations of refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, State Senator Mike Porfirio has steered legislation through the Senate that would waive transcript evaluation fees for these individuals. 

“Denying refugees equal access to education reinforces marginalization,” said Porfirio. “By waiving transcript evaluation fees, we are not only promoting access to education, but also recognizing the valuable contributions that refugees bring to our colleges.”

Currently, transcript evaluations assess foreign transcripts as part of an admission process for higher education institutions. These evaluations are used to establish a U.S.-equivalent GPA, verify the accreditation of the foreign schools, and benchmark completed coursework to determine if the applicant has met the prerequisite requirements for their intended program.

Some colleges and universities require applicants with foreign transcripts to pay a fee to outside vendors to evaluate the transcripts. Transcript evaluation fees vary widely in price, but they usually cost over $100. Porfirio’s bill would require higher education institutions to waive these fees for Iraqi and Afghan refugees.

As a veteran, Porfirio served alongside interpreters while conducting security operations for the Iraqi oil platforms during Operation Iraqi Freedom and with a team of Afghan interpreters while serving as a police advisor with the Afghan National Police during the war in Afghanistan. In championing the initiative, Porfirio aims to recognize the dedication and sacrifice that Iraqi and Afghan individuals have shown while serving side-by-side with U.S. Armed Forces.

 “As a nation, it is our moral obligation to support those who have served shoulder to shoulder with us in the hopes of achieving a better future,” said Porfirio (D-Lyons Township). “Removing the financial barriers to education for refugees will help fulfill this obligation and foster a more inclusive and diverse learning environment.”

Senate Bill 2690 passed the Senate on Wednesday and heads to the House for further consideration.