The Metropolitan State College of Denver board of trustees voted 7-1 to create a new tuition category aimed at making cost of attending college lower for some illegal aliens. Those who meet the three-point criteria set by the trustees, will be eligible for a tuition discount that, while still higher than that granted to in-state students, will be lower than the fees charged of students from out of state.
Students qualify for reduced tuition must have attended a high school in Colorado for the past three years, graduated from a Colorado high school, or received the state’s equivalency diploma, and be able to provide proof that, other than their immigration status, they have a clean criminal record, and plan to normalize their immigration status as soon as they are eligible to do so.
Those who meet these requirements will have their tuition bill reduced to $3,358 from $7,992. In-state students pay $2,152. The discount will be offered starting this fall.
The Metro board of trustees chose to take up the issue of tuition charges for Colorado students who are in the country illegally, after the state senate failed to pass the ASSET bill which would have lowered the price of attending public colleges for qualified illegal immigrants in the entire state.
The ASSET bill would have provided a lower tuition rate for illegal-immigrant students across the state with a GED or diploma from a Colorado high school who could also prove they had been a resident of the state for three years.
That measure had failed to pass the legislature on five previous occasions.
Jack Pogge, the only trustee to have voted against the plan, said that Metro shouldn’t be intruding on the area reserved for Colorado’s legislature, especially since the benefit the school would derive from adopting the proposal wouldn’t be very high.
Two Republican state lawmakers also spoke out against the new tuition scheme, with the chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, Representative Cheri Gerou saying that the move represents a complete disregard of the will of the legislature.
But state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, also a member of the JBC, joined Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero and almost 20 other people Thursday in public comment supporting the new rate. Only one person spoke in opposition.
Steadman pledged that he had “no intention of seeing anyone retaliate” in the legislature.
“Is Metro going around the actions of the legislature? Probably. But it’s something we enabled them to do,” he said.