The official website for Colorado Senator Mike Johnston (D-Denver)

ASSET – SB12-015

What It Does

Creates a new, third category of tuition called “standard-rate” tuition, which is more expensive that in-state tuition and does not include the taxpayer-funded subsidy that is awarded to in-state students. For a student on any campus taking 30 credit hours, this COF amount is an additional $1,860 on top of in-state tuition. Students will be eligible for this new category of tuition if they meet the following criteria:
  • They have attended a Colorado high school for a minimum of THREE years and graduate or earned a general equivalency diploma (GED).
  • They have applied and been admitted to a Colorado institution of higher education within one year of graduating or earning a GED.
  • They submit an affidavit to the institution of higher education stating that they are in the process of becoming documented immigrants.
  • Allows Colorado colleges and universities to opt-out of offering the standard-rate tuition by majority vote of their governing boards.
The boards of all but one Colorado colleges and universities have voiced their support for this bill.  

Why We Need It

Undocumented students who have graduated from our high schools and have benefited from our 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 our investment, because these students are not enrolling in college or are moving out-of-state. 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. The vast majority of students who would be eligible for standard-rate tuition do not currently attend college or attend classes part-time due to the exorbitant cost of out-of-state tuition. Adding these students as full-time students will raise millions of dollars in additional tuition revenue for Colorado’s financially-strapped colleges and universities.  

What Other States are Doing

Currently, 12 states allow in-state tuition for undocumented students, including Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, California, Washington, Oklahoma, and New York. Additionally, Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education passed a policy that permits eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Other states, like California, New Mexico and Texas, have gone even farther and provide undocumented students with in-state tuition and access to financial aid. 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.