Monday, March 23, 2009

The Facts About Tuition Equity - In-State Tuition for Colorado Students

Dear Friend,
I wanted to give you on update on my tuition equity bill because there is a lot of misinformation about what SB09-170 does for our state. First and foremost, SB09-170 will not cost the state a cent. All state funding has been removed from the bill and undocumented students would not qualify for state need based financial aid or the Colorado Opportunity Fund and will pay approximately $2,500 more than legal citizens. This means the bill will actually bring in additional dollars for our higher education system.

SB09-170 clears up in-state tuition laws for all students. Children who:
1. Attend a Colorado high school for at least 3 years.
2. Graduate or acquire a GED from a Colorado high school.
3. Enroll in a higher education institution within 12 months of graduation.
4. Remain in good academic standing.
5. Are competent in the English language upon graduation from high school.
would qualify for in-state tuition.

Additionally, legal residents of the United States can domicile themselves in Colorado for at least 1 year to qualify for in-state tuition. Undocumented students will not have this option.

It is estimated that about 200 to 400 undocumented students a year would qualify for SB09-170. University of Northern Colorado, Colorado Mountain College, and Mesa State College have all endorsed tuition equity because each of those schools has a very high percentage of in-state students.

Finally, these students will be required to sign an affidavit stating they will pursue citizenship upon graduation.

I have also heard many people argue the futility of educating illegal immigrants because legally, they cannot be hired by Colorado businesses. First of all, educating our residents is always beneficial to our society, regardless of employment status, and secondly, on the federal level, legislation will be introduced shortly that would remedy this concern. The DREAM Act, expected to be introduced in two weeks in Congress would grant conditional legal residency to these students, as long as they graduate from high school, are accepted by a college or the military, and stay out of trouble.

We are already funding undocumented students’ K-12 education (as federal law mandates), and we will be wasting this initial investment if we do not provide an opportunity for these students to pursue higher education and ultimately give back to the state. Undocumented students are currently ten times less likely to attend college and realizing this futility, often drop out during high school. Tuition equity is by no means a free pass to college. Instead, all SB 170 does is permit this portion of Colorado’s population to pay in-state tuition. These students will still have to apply and be accepted, so only qualified students will benefit from the bill’s passage.
SB 170 is a beneficial bill to the state of Colorado and all of its residents. That's why Republican businessmen such as Alex Cranberg and Dick Monfort support this legislation. Education officials, bussiness people, Republicans, and Democrats have all come together in favor of SB09-170 because it makes economic sense for Colorado.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope this helps you understand why I support tuition equity.

Chris Romer