Colorado Thinks Dreamers are an Asset – In State Tuition Bill Signed into Law

Today, Colorado Governor John Marking Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 33, also known as the ASSET bill into law. The bill provides for in-state tuition for undocumented college-bound youth who live and reside in the state. This bill ends a decade-long effort to provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented Colorado college students by many legislators and school officials advocating for the change. The rate differential is huge, for instance, with in-state tuition at University of Colorado in 2013 at least $20,000 cheaper than out-of-state tuition per year.

The Democrat-sponsored bill got a boost of support from the recent Deferred Action program launched by the Obama Administration in August 2012. Deferred Action allows eligible undocumented students to legally stay in the US in two-year increments and obtain work authorization and the coveted social security card. For some legislators, handing out in-state tuition to undocumented students was a lost cause because they couldn’t work legally beyond college due to their status. Now, there is some impetus for giving the tuition break.

To qualify for the in-state tuition, undocumented students must attend a Colorado high school for three years. They must graduate from a Colorado high school or obtain a general education diploma, and must declare their intention to pursue legal immigration status. In general, such students must apply to college within 12 months of obtaining the GED/high school diploma, but exceptions apply.¬† The schools do not require verification of the student’s immigration status and therefore, such students are NOT required to be in Deferred Action or any other status to obtain the in-state tuition benefit. Also worth noting is that the in-state tuition rule applies to those states that have a reciprocity agreement with Colorado, such as Wyoming.

Colorado Senator Udall lauded the move in Colorado in hopes of further reform at the federal level, stating “I will take Colorado’s example with me to Washington and continue fighting for a balanced, bipartisan immigration-reform proposal. …. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.”

Good news for the Colorado Dreamers this week. Contact Boulder lawyer Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117 for more information for DREAM Act eligibility or Deferred Action.


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