Metro State takes courageous step on new tuition rate
By now you have probably heard that the board of trustees of Metropolitan State College (soon to be University) voted 7-1 last Thursday to approve a new category of non-resident tuition that will make post-secondary education accessible and affordable for qualified undocumented high school graduates in our state. We are very pleased that Metro has taken this courageous step on behalf of Colorado students and applaud the board for showing leadership on this important issue.
To be eligible for the new non-resident rate, students must have attended a Colorado high school for at least three years and graduated from a Colorado high school or received a GED in the state. They must also provide a statement that they are in good legal standing, other than their documentation status, and are seeking or intend to seek lawful status when eligible.
Metro's new "Colorado High School/GED Tuition Rate" will be more than what resident students pay but less than traditional out-of-state tuition costs. Specifically, the new rate will be $7,157 per year for a full-time student, compared to $4,304 for in-state tuition and $15,985 for out-of-state tuition. No state moneys will subsidize this new rate, with the full costs being covered by students and their families.
The new tuition rate includes total tuition costs (both the student's and the state's share), a per-student charge for institutional "Fee-for-Service" funding received from the state and a capital (building and grounds) contribution charge. While we fundamentally disagree with the notion that institutional Fee-for-Service funding is a student subsidy that can or should be charged to any student on a pro-rated basis (see our testimony in support of SB 12-015, the Colorado ASSET bill, this year), we understand Metro's decision to structure its new tuition rate in this way.
The Bell Policy Center has long supported affordable tuition for undocumented Colorado high school graduates at all of our state's public colleges and universities. Ensuring that more students can pursue post-secondary opportunities is not just good educational policy, it is also good workforce-development policy that will help Colorado build the strong foundation on which our state's future economic competitiveness and quality of life will rest. Among the business-related associations and organizations that support affordable tuition for undocumented students are the Colorado Forum, Colorado Succeeds and several chambers of commerce.
And providing an affordable tuition rate for Colorado undocumented students also recognizes the critical fact that these students and their families are, in fact, taxpayers themselves. Research conducted by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found that in 2010, families headed by undocumented immigrants in Colorado paid an estimated $167.5 million in state and local taxes. Of that amount, approximately $88.2 million would have been state taxes paid to and used by Colorado to support a variety of public programs and services.
Once again, we congratulate Metro on its leadership and encourage other governing boards to consider similar actions on behalf of Colorado's undocumented high school graduates.
Article posted on June 12, 2012