Colorado House Spikes Legislation Charging Undocumented Students In-State Tuition

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Undocumented students walk through a minefield of laws in pursuit of higher education.

​Some bills die on the floor of the statehouse. Others die on the governor's desk. Sometimes, they die in the courts.

And then there are those that die in a legislative committee, along party lines, like Colorado's Senate Bill 11-126, legislation passed last week by the Colorado Senate to allow undocumented students to take classes at public colleges paying in-state tuition. That bill was killed by Colorado's House Education Committee on a straight Democrat/Republican split last night, 7-6.

The rejection comes at a time when undocumented Arizona students are rallying against Maricopa Community Colleges' targeted anti-immigrant tuition hike, and spotlights the minefield facing undocumented kids across the country who want to pursue higher education.

Washington, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, Illinois, New York, and Texas allow their undocumented students to take classes at in-state tuition rates. Arizona does not.

Oregon, Maryland, and Colorado are all states considering legislation giving undocumented kids the opportunity to pay in-state tuition, although the Colorado bill's future is now bleak. Undocumented students in those states currently pay out-of-state tuition.

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill last fall, the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented students who graduate from college the opportunity to become U.S. citizens, but that bill died during a Senate filibuster.

Undocumented students in Arizona who can't afford to enroll at four-year universities have begun taking smaller courseloads at local community colleges to continue their education.
Although undocumented students taking classes at Maricopa Community Colleges pay out-of-state tuition, out-of-staters taking six or fewer hours are charged about $100 per class -- still a pricey total, but manageable.

But the governing board of Maricopa Community Colleges decided last month to raise tuition on part-time students to $1000 per class, which is well beyond the reach of most of these students.

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What is the problem exactly? I came from out of state, and had to pay out of state tuition like everyone else. I had a good friend studying from out of the country, and he had to pay even more. The high cost of education should be dealt with system-wide. I don't see a reason why undocumented students should pay less than their documented cohorts.

The Curse
The Curse

The problem is that these are kids who have lived in a state their entire lives, even if it's not "reflected" in "immigration papers," although it is reflected in elementary and high school diplomas.

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