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Nearly 100 undocumented students apply for new rate at Metro State

DENVER — Nearly 100 students, including many undocumented immigrants, have applied to Metro State University of Denver since the school’s Board of Trustees approved a lower tuition rate for non-residents who aren’t legal U.S. citizens, FOX31 Denver has learned.

And despite the threat of litigation and an opinion from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers questioning the legality of the Board’s decision, the school is moving ahead and reviewing those applications for the fall 2012 semester.

The affidavit filed for legal standing by close to 100 prospective students is among the required documents that must be submitted to qualify for the new rate, which is being offered to undocumented students who attended a Colorado high school for at least three years and graduated with a diploma or G.E.D.

Following a June 19 informational hearing before the Joint Budget Committee at the state Capitol, Metro State President Stephen Jordan told reporters the school would reconsider the board’s vote in light of Suthers’ opinion and the recent Obama administration order to stop deportations on non-citizens whose parents brought them to the country illegally.

But a week later one June 25, the school issued a statement that it was moving ahead with the new rate.

“We are proceeding with the implementation based on the trustees’ policy decision,” Jordan said in the statement. “Although I believe we’re operating on secure legal ground, we are also looking into the legal questions raised by the Attorney General’s opinion and we’ll assess any potential implications for implementation and advise the board.”

The deadline for new students to apply for the fall semester was June 29, but returning students have until August 17 to submit an affidavit that would allow them to receive the lower tuition rate as well.

Metro’s Board of Trustees has not convened again since June 7, when it voted 7-1 in favor of the new tuition rate.

The Board doesn’t normally meet during the summer and its next official meeting is scheduled for the first week of September, but it’s possible a special meeting could be called next month, Cathy Lucas, a Metro spokeswoman, told FOX31 Denver.

Former GOP Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo told FOX31 Denver he’s still considering a lawsuit aimed at stopping Metro State from implementing the rate, but that it may be at least a few weeks before it would be filed.

Just last week, Tancredo filed a CORA request to obtain all emails and communications between Metro State’s president and trustees.

“It’s to see how early on they looked at this, if [Metro] made lawmakers or the governor aware of this, if they got any instructions, that sort of thing,” Tancredo said. “That’s the first step and a lawsuit could follow.”

Metro State has retained attorneys David Fine and David Skaggs at the firm of McKenna, Long & Aldridge to offer legal guidance on the legality of the tuition rate and to represent the school should a lawsuit be filed.