Thousands of Illegal Immigrant Students Sign Up for Tuition Benefit

September 25, 2013
More illegal immigrants than expected are taking advantage of a new law offering discounted tuition at state colleges and universities

More illegal immigrants than expected are taking advantage of a new law offering discounted tuition at state colleges and universities

DENVER – Democrat sponsors of a new law that grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants seriously underestimated the number of undocumented students who would take advantage of the benefit.

According to the Department of Higher Education, a whopping 2,880 students have registered online for the College Opportunity Fund stipend.  This is the first step in applying for the stipend, which would be awarded pending enrollment.

At least 640 undocumented students have already enrolled in state colleges under the new law, according to a report by the state Department of Education.

That number exceeds the estimated 500 illegal immigrants who were projected to apply this year and the 250 expected for 2014-15. Those guesstimates were used to determine the financial impact of the controversial proposal on the state’s General Fund — $930,000 and nearly $1.4 million, respectively.

The bill – known as Senate Bill 33 – signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in April, enables illegal-immigrant students who have lived in Colorado for three years – and graduated from high school or earned a GED – to attend higher education institutions with tuition subsidies given to legal in-state residents.

SB 33’s fiscal note stated it was inconclusive about how much money from the general fund will be required in the next fiscal year to subsidize the taxpayer-funded College Opportunity Fund, which offsets tuition costs for legal students to attend higher education institutions.

Of the 640 undocumented students approved to receive in-state tuition, 348 enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver – much higher than the 137 students predicted by the fiscal note.

“These students may now go to any local college or university, yet they continue to choose MSU Denver,” Deputy Provost Luis Torres recently told EdNews Colorado.

During the three-hour debate on the Senate floor earlier this year, SB 33 opponents questioned the fiscal note and an amendment to the bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee that declared $502.6 million from the general fund would be appropriated for the college opportunity fund for FY 2012-13.

Joint Budget Committee member Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) attempted to amend the bill to obtain a valid appropriations report – but it was rejected by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“This amendment is intended to provide clarity, to reverse the Jedi mind trick of the appropriations report,” declared Lambert in a last attempt after the bill had passed.

SB 33 sponsor Sen. Michael Johnston (D-Denver) asserted that the in-state tuition measure “requires no additional appropriations outside of the Long Bill” which sets the state budget for FY 2013-14.

Correcting Johnston’s assertion, JBC Chair Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) said, “The appropriations report does not declare this is free. It will be funded in the Long Bill.”

As the costs of higher education tuition costs have skyrocketed, the College Opportunity Fund has dramatically decreased over the past eight years. The COF stipend to offset the cost of tuition for legal in-state students dropped 23 percent, from $80 to $62 per credit hour, by 2012.

The average cost of in-state tuition was $3,218 per year in 2000 compared to $7,287 forecasted next year, according to the Department of Education.  State funding dropped from $6,742 per student to $3,342 over the same period.

The state’s funding share declined during economic recessions in 2000 and 2008, which has been a sluggish recovery.  Unknown is the impact of the greater-than-projected number of undocumented students receiving in-state tuition on the state General Fund.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

4 Responses to Thousands of Illegal Immigrant Students Sign Up for Tuition Benefit

  1. Bob Terry
    September 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Hey no borders no citizen worries ..Because the liberal and the Democrats say..NO Problem..someone else will foot this Bill…and now we’re all warm an fuzzy..because we did something …JOY :)..Don’t you just feel good reading this ..

    Well I don’t…Bad politics ..bad accountability or responsibility. Another feel good legislation that benefits agenda..and nothing’s like screw you metro Denver and SCREW YOU people of Colorado as a whole ..Problem ..the state continues to vote for people like this and wonder why your paycheck just got a whole lot light …but don’t ya really feel good …

  2. rlloyd
    September 28, 2013 at 4:29 am

    This bill should have never been passed, regardless of the “feel-good” syndrome the Democrats want to expereince. Illegal means Illegal, and these folks are not citizens. Is it not fair to let them have this benefit, when the state charges out-of-state students double or more tutition; and these students are US Citizens. This needs to be rectified, and quit screwing the taxpayers.

  3. Richard
    October 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Where are all the positive comments from the illegal students that will benefit from the passage of Colorado Bill 33?

  4. January 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Bob Terry, well said. LEADERSHIP,ACCOUNTABILITY,or RESPONSIBILITY! Lets get a Republican Govenor, take over the state senate and house and clean up some of this crap from 2013.

    ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES! If you don’t like what happened in 2013 get out and vote this fall…. Everyone!


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