Full interpretation of new law reveals sticky situation for students and professors
A voter-approved amendment to the Colorado Constitution could put a squeeze on some students’ scholarship money once lawmakers fully interpret the law’s meaning.
Last November, Colorado voters approved Amendment 41, which went into effect Jan. 1. It restricts public officials and government employees from receiving gifts of more than $50, unless it is from a personal friend or relative on a special occasion.
The intention of the legislation was to achieve high ethical standards. But there’s a catch. Professors and students working for state universities are considered government employees. This means that students enrolled in work-study programs will not be eligible for private scholarship opportunities. Also, professors will not be allowed to accept monetary portions of Nobel Prizes and other similar awards.
Some state lawmakers have spoken out about the amendment.
“This is an absurd result,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in a recent statement. “Our analysis of Amendment 41 has led to some extremely unfortunate, yet unavoidable, conclusions.”
However, Mark Grueskin, a Denver lawyer working with the group that proposed the amendment, said the Colorado Legislature has the authority to amend Amendment 41 so as to clear up this problem. The next state ballot may also contain a measure to give voters the opportunity to fix the problem.
“All of this is up in the air right now,” said Evan Icolari, associate director for CU Office of Financial Aid. “At the legislative level, they are still in the process of interpreting the implications of Amendment 41.”
Sarah Toon, a senior international affairs major, has a work-study job at the financial aid office in the Regent Administrative Center on campus. While Toon is not on scholarship, many of her co-workers are. Scholarship eligibility is often tied to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which determines a student’s financial need.
“Students that have a FAFSA index of 7,000 or below automatically qualify for a work-study position. If their index number is less than 5,000, they are eligible for a university grant,” Toon said. “Many students with work-study jobs are getting their tuition paid for by grants, not scholarships. So, this will only affect some students.”
For more information on Amendment 41 visit, http://www.elections.colorado.gov/DDefault.aspx?tid=835&vmid=748 for the exact language of the bill.
Contact staff writer James Collector at email@example.com.