Senator Johnston co-authored with Senator Pat Steadman an op-ed in this morning’s Denver Post praising the Metro State Board of Trustees for taking “advantage of the tuition setting authority given to them by the legislature” to create a non-resident tuition rate for undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools.
The Board’s actions came after Republicans in the Colorado House killed Senator Johnston’s ASSET Bill earlier this year, which would create a third category of tuition for undocumented students that is significantly higher than in-state tuition by lower than out-of-state tuition.
We support Metro State in its decision and believe our statutes clearly defend the school’s right to do so. It is the role of the legislature to approve the mission of state institutions of higher education, and Metro State’s mission is to educate underserved populations.
The Senators offer this rebuttal to Attorney General John Suthers’s statements that the Board’s decision violates federal and state law by providing a “public benefit” to undocumented immigrants without legislative approval:
When an illegal immigrant pays 100 percent of the actual cost for a public service, they are not receiving a “public benefit.” The attorney general’s assertion that paying the full cost of a service is illegal and that undocumented persons must pay more than the actual cost is a radical break with current policy. State and federal law do not require undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition. This is why Metro State avoided any subsidy by creating a new non-resident rate that is a significantly higher rate than in-state. In the case of Metro State’s new non-resident tuition rate, the undocumented student is paying 100 percent of the cost of their education. There is no “assistance” from state or federal dollars, thus there is no public benefit.
Click here to read the full text of their op-ed.
Last night in our community office, our staff helped undocumented students fill out their applications to Metro State. Here’s a picture Senator Johnston posted on Twitter from our workshop: