Illegal immigrants may not get college subsidy in Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” A proposal to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates is being weakened in the face of opposition.
Bill sponsor Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said Tuesday he would no longer seek to give these students the same state subsidy other Colorado students get.
The state provides every Colorado student with a voucher worth up to about $2,700 a year that they can use at a state college of their choice within the state.
Under Romer’s latest proposal, students who graduated from Colorado high schools or earn their equivalency diplomas and are in the country illegally would qualify to pay lower in-state tuition rates. They wouldn’t get the voucher money though and would have to make up the difference, which would still be less than paying the out-of-state rate they now have to pay.
Romer also wants to require students to sign affidavits stating they’re trying to get legal residency, a requirement in the other 10 states that have passed such bills since 2001. He said the document would be a part of the student’s record but would be kept confidential.
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The measure (Senate Bill 170) is scheduled for its first hearing Thursday before the Senate Education Committee, and Romer will ask lawmakers to make the changes then.
The bill is supported by some prominent businessmen, including Colorado Rockies co-owner Dick Monfort, and Romer said donors could help students make up the extra cost.
In Greeley, for example, car dealer Scott Ehrlich said the bill could help immigrant students take advantage of a program he founded to help students attend Aims Community College. Currently, College Promise provides grants of up to $2,000 a year based on need to help students pay tuition and buy books.
Ehrlich said children of illegal immigrants have been reluctant to apply because, even with the maximum grant, out-of-state tuition is too expensive.
“I would love to help them continue their education,” he said.
Romer said he proposed the changes to the bill because some people questioned whether the state should pay for illegal immigrants to attend college with money so tight now. However, he said the state should still help such students, brought by their parents to the United States, get ahead.
“I won’t punish children, and I won’t end up with a subclass of citizens who aren’t educated,” he said.
Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, said he still opposes the bill because it sanctions breaking the law and said the businessmen backing the bill, some of them Republicans, were wrong.
“Rewarding illegal behavior begets illegal behavior,” he said