The 2013-2014 academic year is the first time undocumented immigrant students have been able to receive in-state tuition at state colleges like CU.
The Asset Bill, passed by state legislature during the 2013 session, makes it possible for immigrants who attended high school in Colorado or received a GED to be considered in-state students.
A total of 43 students across all of the University of Colorado campuses benefit from the new bill. 16 of those students attend CU Boulder, 14 attend CU Denver and 13 attend CU Colorado Springs, according to Steve Bosley, Regent-at-Large.
CU Boulder Board of Regents member Stephen Ludwig said the old way held students responsible for where they grew up and did not benefit the state, let alone the country.
“I fully supported the Asset legislation, and that was one of the major issues in my campaign for re-election last year,” Ludwig said. “It was immoral and ill-advised to charge out-of-state tuition to undocumented students that have been long-time Colorado residents.”
In order to qualify, immigrant students are required to have attended at least three years of high school and must apply or soon be applying for lawful presence with admittance. They also do not receive additional financial aid.
Sophomore integrative physiology major Gerardo Lopez Perez benefits from the bill. Perez said he is grateful. According to Perez, it means a chance to go to school, a reward for hard work and a huge burden lifted. He graduated from Harrison High School in Colorado Springs, taking a gap year in order to work to save up for school. After completing his first year and wiping out his entire savings, returning to CU was daunting.
“Prior to the Asset Bill, the thought of coming back to CU for my second year was very questionable,” Perez said. “With financial aid being extremely limited and having very little spare time for side jobs, I was looking into taking yet another break from school in order to once again save up the necessary funds for tuition.”
With the implementation of the Asset Bill, Perez was able to continue on with school.
“What I also realize is how much any individual is willing to work when he or she truly ambitions a goal,” Perez said. “Without question, the Asset bill lays a smoother road ahead in regards to my education, but most importantly constantly reminds me of the struggles of thousands who ambition not a free shot at success, but a fair shot.”
Students are torn about the issue. There are tones of dissatisfaction since a student in the country illegally might be cut more of a break than students with legal status.
“I’m actually rather torn about it,” said sophomore political science major Parker Griggs. “I think it’s annoying from a student perspective, because I receive very little assistance for my schooling, from both the federal level and my parents. With that being kept in mind, from the ‘me footing my schooling bill’ mentality, it’s annoying because I don’t appreciate more provisions being for people that aren’t me.”
“That feels relatively selfish of me to say,” Griggs said. “Immigration will always be a tough subject to talk with anyone about. They say that about 4.5 million people in this country are here illegally, but they do help this country function from a productivity standpoint.”
Students who benefit from the bill are thankful for the burden it has lifted.
“We won’t know anything, probably for several years, and then the comparison would be how that group compares to the student population as a whole,” Bosley said. “Are they doing better? Are they doing worse? Are they doing the same?”
Bosley said the administration would continue with the current criteria for students.
“We’ve got criteria and it hasn’t changed for years, what it is you have to qualify to be admitted to CU,” Bosley said. “We are going to aggressively pursue the best students we can, regardless of any of this…what’s it worth to have an educated workforce, an educated populous? We don’t have a choice.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kelly Ragan at Kelly.email@example.com, twitter/kellyraygun.