Undocumented Tuition Bill Supporters Upbeat

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1min 32sec

Nearly a hundred people rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday in support of a bill that would make college more affordable for undocumented immigrants. The bill is different from last year's failed proposal.

Here is a transcript of Colorado Public Radio education reporter Jenny Brundin’s report:

Reporter Jenny Brundin: It’s the seventh attempt to try to pass a bill that would lower the tuition rate for undocumented students who've graduated from Colorado high schools.

Ana Calderon: And that is 7 times too many.

Reporter: That’s Ana Calderon. She came to the U.S. when she was three. She graduated from high school in 2011, and at first, the scholarships rolled in.

Calderon: Together we watched in complete desolation as our scholarships were being ripped away from us, all because of the absence of a nine-digit number. And with broken hearts, we had to put our dreams on hold.

Reporter: Right now, undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges. That can be up to five times the in-state rate. Supporters say passing a bill to change that would bring Colorado in line with surrounding states like Utah and New Mexico. Democratic Senator Michael Johnston, a former principal, says it’s hard to tell students to work hard when they know it’s impossible to realize their dreams.

Sen. Michael Johnston: And they’re watching right now when the two last valedictorians at a high school in my district are right now flipping burgers at a fast food joint.

Reporter: But some Republicans say the bill would give those students false hope, or encourage illegal immigration. And Highlands Ranch Republican Senator Ted Harvey says there's another problem.

Sen. Ted Harvey: I think it’s only going to lead to a lawsuit because the federal government says if you have in-state tuition for people who are here illegally you have to give in-state tuition to people who are here from Kansas or other states in the union that are having to pay out-of-state tuition.

Reporter: But the measure is expected to pass this year, with the support of Democrats who now control the state legislature.

Text of ASSET bill

[Photos: CPR/JBrundin]