June 7, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver
An historical day: Trustees pass new unsubsidized tuition rate
The Metropolitan State College of Denver Board of Trustees today made history by voting 7–1 to approve the new Colorado High School/GED Tuition Rate proposed by President Stephen Jordan.
A standing-room-only crowd in TIV 320 of more than 200 students, faculty and staff from Metro State as well as numerous community members, including several state legislators, gave the trustees a standing ovation after the vote.
The Colorado High School/GED Tuition Rate is for students living in the state of Colorado who through no fault of their own do not have the lawful status to be eligible for resident tuition rates. This unsubsidized rate is substantially higher than the resident tuition rate—by about $2,800 per year for 15 credits per semester—but is significantly lower than the out-of-state rate.
No tax dollars or state or federal public benefit or subsidy will be used for this special rate. Jordan said it will be “truly unsubsidized” as there is even a $650.60 capital construction fee to account for the use of campus buildings that were built using state general funds.
Jordan said that in discussing the proposal, the administration had been absolutely cognizant to abide by state statutes. “We have the legislative authority to establish nonresident rates and there are existing examples from other institutions.”
The criteria for the new rate are the same as those in the ASSET bill, which had failed to pass in the state legislature. Unlike the ASSET bill, Metro State’s program does not offer state support. To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria, beyond the existing admissions requirements:
· attended a Colorado high school for at least three years;
· graduated from a Colorado high school or received a general equivalency diploma (GED) in this state; and
· provide a statement that they are in good legal standing, other than their undocumented or unclassified status, and are seeking or intend to seek lawful status when eligible.
It was on the third criteria that Trustee Bill Hanzlik said his support had an asterisk. “We need to keep track of this requirement of intent to seek legal status and give them the help they need to attain it.”
Of the 21 people who had signed up to give public testimony, alumnus Joe Farber was the sole person to express his disapproval. He said that Metro State needs to “hold the line at the light of truth, not political correctness.”
Several current Metro State students who are undocumented were among those testifying, including Hector, who declined to provide his last name. He said his father had brought him to the United States when he was 14 years old. He had always been good at school and dreamed of attending college. He attends at Metro South, where the tuition is lower than at the Auraria Campus. Even so, he said that after six semesters he is still a freshman since he’s paying for his tuition out of his own pocket and can only afford to attend part-time.“This will allow me to attend classes on the main campus and is a path to citizenship,” he said.
The politicians who testified for the new rate were Sen. Pat Steadman, Rep. Crisanta Duran and Denver City Council member Judy Montero.
A common theme expressed by supporters was gratitude that Metro State has the courage and the leadership to implement the new tuition rate.
Following the testimony, Board Chair Rob Cohen called for a roll-call vote. Each of the eight voting trustees present (Dawn Bookhardt was unable to attend) expressed the reason for their vote, including Jack Pogee, who said that while he is sympathetic to undocumented students, he does not feel that this is the right process to address the issue.
The other seven trustees expressed passionate support for the new tuition category, including Hon. Terrance Carroll, who said that he regrets that the ASSET bill didn’t pass while he was the Speaker of the House in 2009-10. “It is important for us to lead the way,” he said.
Planned tuition increase
In addition to the Colorado High School/GED Tuition Rate, the board approved a 13 percent increase in the in-state tuition rate and a 9 percent increase in the non-resident rate starting fall 2012. Both increases were part of Metro State’s Five-Year Financial Accountability Plan approved by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in 2010.
Vice President of Administration, Finance and Facilities Natalie Lutes said that even with the increase Metro State still has the lowest tuition in the state.