By Donna Fowler
Colorado Reps. Jared Polis and Diana DeGette have written a letter to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees agreeing that the University’s Colorado High School/GED Nonresident Tuition Rate is “within federal and state legal authority.”
Polis and DeGette contacted the trustees following an analysis they had requested from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the rate’s legality. CRS is an independent arm of the U.S. Congress that offers objective analysis of public policy issues and legislation.
In their analysis, the CRS wrote:
Based on the judicial opinions published to date, it would appear that [programs and services that state or local governments provide for a fee] are unlikely to be viewed as state and local public benefits because they do not “assist people with economic hardship” and “create little or no incentive for illegal immigration.” In fact, courts have traditionally viewed certain services provided for a fee (i.e., education at state-sponsored institutions of higher education) as not constituting state public benefits under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996.
The CRS opinion differs from that issued by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers shortly after the trustees approved the rate in June. Suthers said that the new rate created a tuition category that is a public benefit, which can only be given to individuals who can prove their lawful presence in the United States.
In their Nov. 15 letter to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees, Polis and DeGette praised MSU Denver’s commitment to extending an affordable college education to all, writing:
“Many young people who are in the United States are unable to take advantage of the privileges of citizenship, through no fault of their own. They should be given more chances to make a positive impact on our county, which is often the only country they know as home...Equally as important, this new rate is a prime example of how Metro State is advancing its mission as an institution of opportunity, serving low-income, first generation and historically under-represented populations…Thank you for leading the way on this issue among Colorado’s institutions of higher learning. We are hopeful that this is the one ripple in the ocean that will lead to a wave of further opportunities for deserving students to realize their dreams.”
The full text of the letter is available here.
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