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Immigrant Tuition Bill Faces Colorado House Test

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Students rally outside the Capitol on for immgrant tuition on April 23, 2012  (credit: CBS)

Students rally outside the Capitol on for immgrant tuition on April 23, 2012 (credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP/CBS4) – A bill that would allow illegal immigrants in Colorado to attend college at a discounted tuition rate is facing its first test in the state House.

The House Education Committee held a hearing on the bill Monday. The measure’s prospects are good there, but it could run into more opposition later in the Republican-led House, where a similar measure failed last year.

The proposal would let illegal immigrants who graduate from Colorado high schools attend college at a rate lower than the out-of-state price but slightly higher than the in-state rate. The students must sign an affidavit saying they are seeking legal status.

The bill has already passed the Democratic-led Senate.

Mayor Michael Hancock testified at the hearing.

“We see Denver as a world-class city where everyone matters. And we believe that means our world-class city must provide its students with the opportunities they need to succeed in a global economy,” Hancock said at the hearing.

This is the sixth time Colorado lawmakers have debated the issue.

Thirteen states – including Texas, California, Illinois and Connecticut – have passed legislation granting in-state tuition for immigrant students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Under this year’s bill, Colorado students who are illegal immigrants would not get in-state tuition, which includes a state subsidy. An illegal immigrant student attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, would pay about $9,500 annually, compared with an estimated $7,700 for Colorado residents and about $28,850 for non-Colorado residents.

The proposal allows colleges and universities to decide not to participate. But many have expressed support, including the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the state system of community colleges.

Mayor Hancock’s Prepared Remarks

“We see Denver as a world-class city where everyone matters. And we believe that means our world-class city must provide its students with the opportunities they need to succeed in a global economy.

“The ASSET bill provides precisely that kind of opportunity.

“Without the use of a single tax payer dollar, this bill will allow us to provide otherwise high performing students the opportunities to further their education and improve their chances of becoming self-sufficient adults.

“Without the use of a single tax payer dollar, this bill will allow qualified students to attend college at near in-state rates, helping Denver and the entire state realize the investment we’ve made in them over the course of their academic career.

“Without the use of a single tax payer dollar, this bill will reduce the cycle of poverty through education and lead to more productive citizens that will make significant economic contributions to our communities.

“Without the use of a single tax payer dollar, this bill will help prevent kids who see no value in or hope for their education from dropping out and going straight to work. This bill provides the right kind of incentives to keep our children on the path to success.

“As Mayor of Denver, I have little direct impact on our schools. And yet, there is not an issue I’ve come across that isn’t predicated on a strong education system. That is why I stand here today and urge you to pass this bill.

“A strong future for Denver, a strong future for cities across this great state, depends on a highly skilled workforce. We know a college education will help these students fulfill their potential and help create a sustainable economy.

“It is our job to help them by providing opportunities to grow and develop as the future leaders of our city.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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