Undocumented students should pay in-state tuition
Making all Colorado high school graduates pay in-state tuition rates will expedite our economic recovery. Senate Bill 11-126, known as Colorado ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow), would provide unsubsidized tuition for undocumented students who attend a Colorado high school for a minimum of three years, graduate or obtain a GED, and are admitted to a Colorado institution of higher education within 12 months of completing their secondary education. No state funds would go toward the tuition of these students, no College Opportunity Fund dollars are allocated with this bill, and undocumented students would not be eligible for financial aid.
We have already made significant investments in these young people’s K-12 education. Many students are already working their way through the immigration system, and the remaining students will be required to seek legal status. Colorado’s colleges and universities are facing substantial budget cuts, and this bill will create revenue for Colorado’s institutions of higher education. According to the ASSET Bill’s fiscal note, approximately 737 students will be eligible for the new tuition classification as a result of this bill; however, not all of these students will attend an institution of higher education this year. If 400 undocumented students were to access in-state tuition, revenue at 2-year and 4-year institutions would increase by $1.1 million and $2.3 million respectively.
Five states that border Colorado (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico), and 11 states in total, already provide access to in-state tuition for undocumented students. Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma provide both tuition equity and state financial aid to undocumented students. Evidence from Texas, which has had a tuition equity law in place for 10 years, supports the conclusion that providing in-state tuition to all Coloradans will not increase unauthorized immigration. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, less than 1 percent of Texas college students benefited from Texas’ in-state tuition law in 2009. In-state tuition does not incentivize unauthorized immigration. It incentivizes high school graduation.
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