DENVER (CBS4)– Metro State College of Denver trustees passed a plan that gives illegal immigrants a 58 percent tuition break. One state lawmaker said the college may lose funding as a result.
A state law aimed at lowering tuition rates for illegal immigrants failed in the state legislature last session. Similar measures have failed five times in the last nine session.
The motion carried with a 7-1 vote among the trustees on Thursday. That makes Metro State the first college to lower tuition for illegal immigrants.
“It means I can continue on to college and give my brothers an example,” said one perspective college student.
“It just opens huge doors for me and hallelujah!” said Fanny Garcia.
She admits she isn’t a U.S. citizen but says she’s as American as anyone.
“I want to be a pilot. My dream was to go to the Air Force Academy,” said Garcia.
About 300 students would benefit from the tuition change. Those students would also have to meet admission standards. The plan would cut the cost of tuition in half for those students.
“There are no tax dollars involved, no subsidy, they don’t get anything special just a reduced tuition rate,” said Metro State Trustee Terrance Carroll.
The new tuition rate breaks down like this: $6,716.60 per year for a full-time undocumented immigrant student. This compares to nearly $15,985 per year for out-of-state tuition and $4,304.40 per year for in-state tuition.
At least one state lawmaker doesn’t agree with the change.
“The state is giving the college money which goes to paying each of their instructors and keeping up the buildings,” said Rep. Jon Becker, a Republican who represents Fort Morgan.
He believes this decision will put Metro State’s funding in jeopardy.
“If one college decides it’s going to break out and do one thing we’ve voted down at the capitol, then we have to take a close look at whether or not its subsidized and how are they figuring it’s not subsidized,” said Becker.
Garcia said the decision is her only hope for a college degree, “I’m not asking anyone to give me something for free or hand it to me. I don’t want it handed I want to earn it. That’s what my parents taught me- you want it, you earn it.”
The new rate will take effect this fall.
Metro State College of Denver will officially change its name to Metro State University of Denver on July 1.