Tuition Breaks For Immigrants Debated in Colo.

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, January 20, 2012

Illegal immigrants attending Colorado high schools are waiting to see if this is the year the Legislature allows them to attend state universities at tuition rates that are higher than those for in-state students but lower than out-of-state levels.

Both parties have defeated the bill in the past. This year, passage is likely in the Senate, led by Democrats, but uncertain in the House, controlled by Republicans. But a Republican House lawmaker of Mexican descent who has been discussing the legislation with Democrats could influence its passage.

This is the sixth time state lawmakers have tried to make college more affordable to illegal immigrants, who don't qualify for the less-expensive in-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition can be up to five times higher, and supporters said that's an obstacle many college-bound illegal immigrants raised in the U.S. can't overcome.

"When you have a 9th grader or a 10th grader or an 8th grader who realizes they have no prospects for long-term success, they lose hope," said Democratic Sen. Michael Johnston, a sponsor of the legislation.

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