Colorado School Courts Illegal Immigrants with Tuition Break

Back to July 2012 Ed Reporter

Colorado School Courts Illegal
Immigrants with Tuition Break

Illegal immigrants in Colorado got a big break when Metropolitan State College of Denver trustees voted to drop tuition rates 58% for non-citizens. The college hopes this controversial move will attract more Hispanic students, and more federal funds.

The rate is “for students living in the state of Colorado who through no fault of their own do not have the lawful status to be eligible for resident tuition rates,” the college said in a statement.

“We’re doing exactly what we’ve been given the authority to do by the legislature — to be flexible enough to generate revenue streams that work for us,” Stephen Jordan, president of Metro State, told The Denver Post. Jordan expects about 300 students to qualify for the reduced rates next fall, and school officials estimate those students will result in about $884,000 in revenue in the fall, and $2 million over the next five years, The Denver Post reported.

If Metro State can attract more Latino students, it has a chance at being ranked as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). This classification would more than double the amount of federal funds the school receives. Colorado already has two four-year HSI’s, and three community college HSI’s. The U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $103 million to HSI schools last year, and Colorado legislators say they hope they can help add to that number by encouraging other schools to apply.

Trustee Jack Pogge was the only member of the board to vote against the plan, which passed 7-1. He told The Denver Post he was concerned the rate change wouldn’t benefit the school enough, particularly in light of the fact that the Colorado state legislature has voted against similar ploys five times. “It’s not our position to do this,” he said. State Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver) assured supporters 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.

Metro State requires undocumented students to meet certain criteria, including having spent at least three years at Colorado high schools, to qualify for the reduced rates.

“This initiative speaks to Metro State’s mission as an urban institution by providing affordable, accessible education to all qualified students,” Jordan said in a statement. “We don’t deny students an opportunity to get an education at the K-12 level, so why would we continue to create barriers at the higher education level?”