DENVER — Monday will hold a milestone for undocumented students hoping to earn a college degree in Colorado, and for the advocates who have spent more than a decade fighting on their behalf.
Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign the ASSET Bill into law Monday around 1 p.m., giving undocumented students full in-state tuition at Colorado colleges and universities and putting an end to a 13-year-long fight.
The signing will take place on the Auraria Campus in Denver, where, last year, Metro State University’s board of trustees voted to lower tuition for undocumented students just months after Republicans at the Capitol blocked the ASSET bill.
It took more than six different bills to get undocumented students the same tuition price tag as every other in-state student. The bill that finally passed did so thanks to a bipartisan vote.
“We will be on the right side of history,” said State Rep. Crisanta Duran, a Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House.
A few of the young faces with dreams of a college education were there the day the bill passed. They’ll be there this afternoon when it gets signed into law, as well.
“Their stories are the stories of the United States and stories of the foundation of this country,” Duran said, standing beside them.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t those who are still opposed to this legislation. State Rep. Amy Stephens, a Republican from Monument, is among them. She believes the bill may provide false hope to undocumented students who won’t be able to work legally after graduation.
“Let’s give this to the taxpaying public, who will be the ones paying for this,” Stephens said. “Let’s allow them to have word on this; allow them to vote on this.”
Supporters of the bill have argued that the policy is a matter of fairness for students who were brought to Colorado as young children, have lived here for most of their lives and would not have a voice in such a vote.
Regardless of the support or opposition, come next fall, qualified students will no longer have to pay non-resident tuition in Colorado.
To qualify, undocumented students must prove they applied to be in the United States legally. Analysts say the bill will raise $2 million in tuition revenue during next school year alone.
Around a thousand undocumented students are expected to take advantage of the new tuition rate in the first year.