State Senator Mike Johnston joined students leaders today to introduce Colorado ASSET.

Last Tuesday, Senator Johnston introduced Colorado ASSET (SB13-33) in the State Senate. The bill will allow undocumented students who have attended a Colorado high school to gain access to in-state tuition as well as the Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF).  The bill will increase revenue for Colorado universities and colleges who all support the plan.

The bill, expected to pass quickly through the Colorado General Assembly this year, has already received bipartisan support. GOP Sen. Owen Hill says he supports the bill because it requires students to seek lawful residency. Republican Sen. Greg Brophy

Undocumented students who have graduated from Colorado high schools and have benefited from the state’s investment in K-12 education are forced to pay out-of-state tuition, a prohibitive expense that most cannot afford. This essentially means Coloradans are not receiving a return on their investment, because these students are not enrolling in college or are moving out-of-state.

“We come here today to close a chapter in American history, and to open a new one,” said Sen. Johnston.

College graduates are less likely to be caught in a cycle of poverty. Students with a college degree are more productive and civically engaged, they contribute more to the state tax base and are less likely to end up in the corrections system. For the thousands of students currently in line to become citizens, making them pay standard-rate tuition helps guarantee an educated workforce once they attain citizenship.

“What we’re looking at is a simpler, more equitable approach to tuition,” said Sen. Johnston.

Initial trends prove that in-state tuition is having a positive impact on the dropout rates of Latino high school students and on the number of Latino students enrolling in post-secondary programs. For example, Kansas experienced its lowest-ever dropout rate amongst Hispanic students in the year following passage of a similar bill. Furthermore, states that have enacted tuition equity legislation have increased the revenue to their public institutions of higher learning. In 2009, Texas colleges and universities received $27.2 million in tuition and fees from undocumented students.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, State Senator Angela Giron(D-Pueblo), Representative Angela Williams(D-Denver) and Representative Crisanta Duran(D-Denver) joined Sen. Johnston last Tuesday to introduce Colorado ASSET.