Illegal immigrants closer to getting in-state tuition rates

Feb. 4, 2013

Samantha Morley
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Four years ago, two high school girls who immigrated illegally wanted to have a bill passed that would allow for undocumented citizens to receive in-state tuition rates.

On Jan. 24, Senate Bill 13-033, which is very similar to the bill crafted four years ago, went to the Senate Education Committee and passed on a 6-3 vote.

The bill, more commonly known as the ASSET legislation, allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.

There are an estimated 1,500 Colorado high school graduates without legal immigration status. Of those graduates, approximately 500 would attend a Colorado college if the law should go into effect.

Students must meet several qualifications. The student must have attended a public or private school for at least three years, have graduated from a public or private school or obtained a GED, apply and be accepted into a Colorado institution of higher education and already be in the process of obtaining legal citizenship as soon as possible.

“If [students] have committed and done well enough to get into college, I don’t believe they’re leaving, and the more educational opportunities we can give them, the better,” said CU Regent Michael Carrigan.

Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, have also demonstrated their support of the bill. Still, the legislation has many opponents.

“I cannot provide my support to the legislation,” saidStephen Collier, UCCS student body president, in a statement released Jan. 29.

Collier argued the bill does not guarantee illegal immigrant students will establish legal residency and that the bill’s language permits “taxpayers to subsidize the educational costs of undocumented students, which technically speaking, are in Colorado illegally.”

He added, “It is immoral and illegal to provide taxpayer assistance to these students, but potentially deny the same support to a legal resident.”

This round marks the bill’s sixth attempt. Even though it has passed through the Senate Education Committee, it must now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

According to the Denver Post, if the bill passes, “new students would bring in a $2 million increase in tuition for colleges and universities in the first year and $3 million the following year.”

The 2013 version of the bill also advocates for illegal immigrant students to also have access to the College Opportunity Fund.

The state would spend $930,000 more in the first year to subsidize the students and $1.4 million the next year.