DENVER - Illegal immigrants are closer to being eligible for in-state tuition in Colorado. The state Senate gave final approval to the idea Monday with the support of the first Republicans in the chamber ever to agree to the tuition measure.
The Senate voted 23-12 to allow Colorado residents to receive in-state tuition rates regardless of immigration status.
The bill has some specific requirements: Students must graduate from a Colorado high school, they must have resided in Colorado for at least three consecutive years and they must sign an affidavit stating they are seeking citizenship.
The tuition measure has cleared the Democratic Senate before. But Monday's vote was the first to include Republicans. Three members of the GOP voted for the bill. It passed without debate.
The tuition measure now heads to the Democratic House.
Legislative analysts say the measure could affect some 500 students next school year.
Currently, illegal immigrants pay an out-of-state rate that's more than three times higher than the resident rate.
Many Republicans say the legislation raises an issue of fairness because illegal immigrants would be receiving a benefit that other students don't receive. But Democrats say the state has invested in the immigrants' education in state public schools and they should have the chance to attend college at an affordable rate.
It is estimated to cost the state up to $18,000 for the average student to receive a K-12 education in Colorado.
Senate Bill 33: http://bit.ly/15Kbsm4