Colorado expected to pass in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

A proposal to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates at Colorado universities is expected to sail through the state legislature in the coming weeks, even though it scraps compromises hammered out between Democrats and Republicans during earlier efforts to pass similar bills.

The difference this year is that Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion. They expect to have more than enough votes to make complex compromises unnecessary.

This attempt will be the seventh time lawmakers have tried to lower tuition rates for undocumented students, who currently pay out-of-state tuition rates even if they’ve lived in Colorado for their entire lives.

Bill sponsor Sen. Angela Giron said that tuition at some state schools can be twice as much or more for out-of-state students than it is for in-state students.

An effort to change the rates during the last session included a sometimes-confusing middle-tier rate for illegal immigrants, in the hope of attracting Republican support.

The plan involved barring illegal immigrants from receiving the College Opportunity Fund subsidy, a scholarship for all students paying in-state tuition. The scholarship was engineered to help raise higher-ed funding while also getting around certain revenue limits mandated by the Colorado constitution.

Making undocumented students ineligible for the scholarship was a way of trying to appease Republicans who worried that drastically lowering tuition rates for illegal immigrants would attract more of them. It was also a way of attempting to stay within federal law, which prohibits special breaks for illegal immigrants that aren’t available to U.S. citizens.