TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida students who are living in the country illegally would qualify for in-state college tuition rates under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

Thursday's vote was 26-13.

The bill heads next to the Florida House, which is expected to pass it and send it to Gov. Rick Scott.

While some Republicans have sharply criticized the idea as "pandering," Scott and other top GOP legislators have embraced the proposal during this election year.

The bill, if passed, would allow students in the country illegally to pay the same tuition rate as other residents if they had attended a Florida school for at least three years prior to graduation.

Currently the in-state tuition rate is one-quarter of what is paid by out-of-state students and those who are undocumented.