The state of Colorado has joined 12 other states by passing laws allowing in-state tuition to apply to undocumented immigrants.
On March 8, the Colorado House of Representatives passed this measure, which will allow for in-state tuition to apply to undocumented immigrants.
In order to qualify for the in-state college tuition, a person who is in the country illegally must have attended at least three years of high school in Colorado and have either graduated or obtained a GED. They must also apply to a college and be accepted within a year of graduating, according to an article in the Huffington Post.
According to an article in Fox News, the person must also sign an affidavit stating that they are pursuing legal United States citizenship.
Before the law was passed, students residing illegally in the country had to pay out-of-state tuition, which can be up to three times higher than in-state tuition rates.
Those who opposed the bill were concerned that college degrees would do little good to people who couldn’t legally obtain a job in the United States because of their immigration status.
“(Republicans) said the bill would give students false hope because they would be saddled with college debt, but unable to get a job because of their immigration status,” said a Fox News article.
Students do not qualify for the lower tuition rate, until they prove they are pursuing citizenship.
Another concern voiced by Republican Rep. Nancy Spencer is that the bill is indicating that illegal activity is now endorsed by the state.
“The message is that it is okay to commit felonies in the United States,” Spencer said.
Several Republicans also supported the bill, including Rep. Kevin Priola.
“For all intents and purposes Colorado is their home state, and there is no country to go back to. They’re bright, energetic hardworking kids,” Priola said.
Before the bill even came to the Colorado Senate, Colorado State University System Board of Governors voted to support the bill.
“This isn’t about immigration status–this is about ensuring that the pathways to opportunity are open to all Colorado’s children,” said Mary Lou Makepeace, a member of the CSU System Board of Governors, in a prepared statement.
In a news release written for the CSU System Board of Governors mentioned the impact of the new law on CSU-Pueblo, which is a Hispanic Serving Institution, as well as the CSU System’s dedication to serving underserved populations such as undocumented immigrants.
“There is no downside to expanding the pool of qualified resident high school graduates who are eligible to attend one of Colorado’s public colleges or universities,” Makepeace said. “At a time when Colorado needs to do a better job of growing its own high-quality workforce, it just makes sense to offer the opportunity of higher education to as many qualified Colorado high school graduates as possible, regardless of immigration status.”