Our hope may be realized soon as SB 33 approaches the last step in legislative process

In 2003, the drive began to get in-state Colorado university and college tuition for undocumented students. Beginning that year, State Rep. Val Vigil (D-Thornton) ran bills for three years, all unsuccessfully.

By then, Colorado was one of only five states in the entire country to make it illegal for higher education institutions to offer in-state tuition to students whose immigrant parents brought them to the U.S., often as small children.

Since 2006, legislators have tried to pass in-state or reduced tuition bills four more times. This year is the year. Senate Bill 33, nicknamed “ASSET,” is expected to pass the House of Representatives this Friday. The bill won second reading endorsement today after several hours of testimony on the House floor. (ASSET stands for Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow.)

Watching the House debate today were numerous students anxious for SB 33 to pass because the bill means, literally, their future. One young woman, a Westminster High School senior, is looking forward to her high school graduation this spring. She said, “This is a long time coming. So many came before me and fought to help make sure that I can afford to go to college next year. I thank everyone who helped over these past 10 years for their support. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better graduation present than ASSET passing.”

We anticipate SB 33 will be heard on its third reading final vote in the House this Friday, March 8. Several Republican lawmakers are expected to join their Democratic counterparts in supporting the bill. Once it has passed, it will go to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk for his signature.

The cost of attending college is the main obstacle facing undocumented students. While there is no federal law prohibiting the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges and universities, financial limitations are enough to prevent students from applying and enrolling.

SB 33 will not only give many students the opportunity to go to college in Colorado at resident tuition rates, but it will raise millions of dollars each year in additional tuition revenue for our financially-strapped institutions of higher education. Thus, SB 33 is a way to build up Colorado’s educated workforce and grow our state’s economy.

Under Senate Bill 33, students who graduate from high school and have attended a Colorado school for at least three years will be eligible for the in-state tuition rate regardless of immigration status. Estimates by legislative researchers are that about 1,500 Colorado high school students without legal immigration status graduate each year and, of these, 500 are expected to go to college the first year the new law takes effect. Analysts predict that an additional 250 students will attend college each year after that if SB 33 becomes law.

The Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA) has been pushing for SB 33 and the approval of resident tuition for undocumented students, along with affordable access to higher education for all Colorado students. CEA is a member of HEAA’s steering committee, represented by CEA Executive Director Tony Salazar. Joining CEA in HEAA’s cause are the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization; Latin American Educational Foundation; Padres y Jovenes Unidos; Stand for Children; Together Colorado; SEIU Local 105; and Metropolitan State University of Denver.


Explore posts in the same categories: ASSET legislation in Colorado, Colorado Legislature, Governor John Hickenlooper, Higher Education, higher education tuition, undocumented students

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One Comment on “Our hope may be realized soon as SB 33 approaches the last step in legislative process”

  1. Deborah Sheinman Says:

    Fantastic! I’m glad the state legislature finally did something right as regards education. Instead of punitive, bullying measures such as SB 191 directed at both teachers and students (TCAP), the legislature is taking the moral high ground on this measure. Way to go!

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