Denver’s Metropolitan State University, which says that it “educates more undergraduate Coloradans than anyone else in the state,” is going ahead with a controversial new plan to charge a new tuition rate for students who are undocumented immigrants.
Under the new plan, some students who are undocumented immigrants will be charged $3,358 per semester, about $1,000 more than in-state students pay, but about $4,600 less than is charged for out-of-state students. Students must meet these criteria: They must have been residents for at least three years, have a degree from a Colorado high school or a GED and be “in good legal standing other than their immigration status.”
Metro State announced its rate plan shortly after the ASSET bill, which sought to provide discounted rates at all Colorado colleges and universities for students who are undocumented immigrants. According to the Denver Post, the immediate result was a “firestorm” with “some members of the state legislature wonder[ing] if the school was trying to circumvent their work and hinted at political repercussions.”
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has issued an opinion that the tuition rate plan is illegal under state law. After this, a number of Metropolitan State officials testified before Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee, which oversees funding for higher education.
Metro State is confident that it can proceed with its tuition plan and contends that a recent Obama administration decision — that children brought illegally into the US by their parents can have deportation attempts deferred for two years and can apply for work permits — supports it. Students who apply for the different rate (and almost 100 have done so, say Metro State officials) must provide provide notarized documention “affirming that they have either filed an application to legalize their status and/or applied for deferred action under the Homeland Security ruling, or will do so as soon as they become eligible.”
But as former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo points out, even if an injunction is issued against the new tuition rate, some 100 students would be “in jeopardy because now they’ve been identified as being illegal.” The non-profit Rocky Mountain Foundation, which Tancredo runs, is planning to pursue legal action against Metro State for violating state and federal law. While noting that different state colleges can disagree about tuition policies but not change the law, Tancredo stated that, “Metro State must wait for the General Assembly to change the law, and if the law is not changed, they can’t make new laws by themselves.”
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