Metro State to consider tuition drop for undocumented students

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DENVER -- After Republican state lawmakers this year again blocked legislation to reduce college tuition for undocumented students, Metro State College of Denver is considering doing just that on its own.

The proposal, which would cut what undocumented students currently pay by more than 50 percent, will be considered Wednesday at a joint meeting of the board of trustees' academic affairs and finance committees.

If it's recommended, the school's Board of Trustees would likely vote on it Thursday.

"These are student in our seven-county metro area. They are in Denver now. They are good high school students. They still need to meet admission requirements. They want a university experience. I want them to have a good experience here at Metro," says Metro State spokesperson Judi Diaz Bonacquisiti.

Metro State's President, Dr. Steven Jordan, is supporting the proposal, which would create a third category of tuition for students that spent at least three years in a Colorado high school and graduated with a diploma or general equivalency diploma in the state.

If Metro's Board of Trustees approve special tuition rate, undocumented students would pay $6,716.60/year. That’s slightly more than in-state tuition at $5,792.40/year, but considerably less than out-of-state tuition at $15,985.20/year.

That's a concern for a Republican State representative who says Metro may be breaking federal law offering immigrants lower tuition than those out of state.

"My heart goes out to undocumented students. They don't want to be where they're at. But this is a federal law we're complying with," says Rep. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen.

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Legislative analysts estimated earlier this year that the bill dubbed "Colorado ASSET" would impact about 500 illegal immigrants across Colorado.

A majority of those live in Denver and would likely consider Metro State.

 "I'm working on getting in-state tuition. But for the undocumented students, it's a great opportunity for them," says Metro State junior Stephanie Chorkawciw of Chicago.

 "I don't hate those that want to come over here for a better life. But I do support the laws we have. We need to follow those," says Metro State freshman Luke Faulkner.

Republicans at the Capitol widely opposed the legislation, arguing that it would incentivize more illegal immigrants to come to Colorado and pointing out that, without a path to citizenship at the federal level, there’s no way for these students to work legally once they graduate from college.