A similar bill was defeated two years ago.
Under Senate Bill 126, which is widely known as Colorado ASSET, children who attend at least three years at a Colorado high school would have been eligible for in-state tuition at a state college or university. The children would not, however, have been eligible for a subsidy to tuition known as the College Opportunity Fund, so they would actually have paid slightly more than their in-state peers. (This fact led supporters to call the bill a money-maker for education.)
According to the Denver Post: "As an example, a Colorado student receiving in-state tuition at the University of Colorado-Boulder would normally pay $8,508 in tuition per year, while an out-of-state student would pay $28,619. Under the bill, an illegal immigrant qualifying for the in-state rate still would pay $10,368 because they would not receive the College Opportunity Fund subsidy."
Despite the difference in tuition, Republicans and immigration opponents have called the bill a give-away to families that knowingly break the country's immigration laws.
Following the defeat of the bill, the Higher Education Access Alliance, a group of nonprofits that supported the bill, released the following statement:
Republicans Walk Away From $4 Million A Year For Higher Ed and Fail to Improve Thousands of Student's Futures
Colorado ASSET Killed in House Education Committee on Partisan Vote
Denver, CO - Today, at the State Capitol, Colorado Republicans walked away from $4 million a year for higher education and failed thousands of students. The House education committee voted on party lines to kill Colorado ASSET which was projected to help hundreds of students a year afford a higher education while putting millions of dollars into the cash strapped higher education system.
"Disappointed cannot begin to describe how I feel about what Republicans have done to students across Colorado," began Kristee Paschall, chair of the Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA) and Director of Operations of Metro Organizations for People (MOP).
"As an organization that works directly with students and understands the value of higher education its unfortunate Republicans are walking away from an addition $4 million a year for higher education," stated Jim Chavez Executive Director of the Latin American Education Foundation (LAEF) and a HEAA Steering Committee member.
Tony Salazar Executive Director of the Colorado Education Association and HEAA Steering Committee member continued, "This is one less tool teachers have in their toolbox to help students perform to the best of their abilities. We need every tool we can get to help keep kids in school. By the Republicans defeating Colorado ASSET we lose the chance to better motivate many of our students across Colorado."
Ricardo Martinez Co-Director of Padres and Jóvenes Unidos and HEAA Steering Committee member, "This vote is unacceptable. For the Republicans to continue to support the creation of a second class of citizens is unacceptable. All of our students across Colorado deserve access to an affordable education. If students want to better themselves and their lot in life then we should do everything within our power to help them. Today, the Republicans in the State legislature have not done everything they could."
"Over the past year people from across Colorado have sent tens of thousands of emails and letters into the legislature urging them to support Colorado ASSET, seven newspapers from all over Colorado have endorsed Colorado ASSET. Yet, our legislators still have a difficult time finding their way to ending an unjust system," said Jenny Kraska the executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference and HEAA steering committee member.
Julian Ross Executive Director of Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) and a HEAA Steering Committee member concluded by adding, "The social and economic benefits of Colorado ASSET are clear: $ 4 million increase in annual revenue, more Colorado high school graduates attending college, less high school drop outs, and a more educated workforce to remain competitive. Sadly, Republicans ignored the merits of the bill and instead chose to fan the flames of their perennial wedge issue, immigration. It is a tragic tale of partisan politics at the expense of Colorado's future."