Metro State to revisit undocumented tuition rate
DENVER — Metro State President Stephen Jordan said the school’s board will “revisit” it’s recent decision to lower tuition for undocumented students after a meeting with state lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.
Jordan, who answered questions for members of the Joint Budget Committee who called the meeting, wouldn’t say if the Metro Board of Trustees was likely to alter its policy or not.
“We think it’s really critical to get this right at the front end, which is why we’re going to examine the Attorney General’s decision and see what implications it has for us,” Jordan said after the meeting, which lasted just over an hour.
“And we want to understand the legal groundwork we’re in with the President’s decision, and then we’ll make a decision about where we go.”
Republicans on the JBC took issue with Metro and cited Tuesday’s opinion by Attorney General John Suthers, who doesn’t think Metro has the authority to offer the lower tuition rate without the legislature approving such a policy for the entire state.
“You are creating a new category of rates outside your statutory authority,” said Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs.
Deputy Attorney General David Blake attended the meeting and explained that federal law prohibits states from offering “public benefits” to undocumented residents.
“Once you find a public benefit, you are running afoul of federal and state prohibition,” said Blake, who also defended the opinion against criticism that it’s politically motivated.
“This is not a political document,” Blake said. “There is nothing in it political.”
Jordan said the board carefully examined existing case law on the subject of setting tuition rates.
“We believe what we have done is on firm legal ground,” Jordan told the panel.
“We just have a difference of opinion in that we don’t think this qualifies as a public benefit because we’re still charging these students for the cost of their education,” Jordan told reporters after the meeting.