Monday, June 9, 2008

Students caught in bind over free tuition pledge

Back in 2004 Denver, Colorado mayor John Hickenlooper promised to pay for the college tuition of students at Cole Middle School. The first group of those students is about to graduate and take advantage of Hickenlooper’s pledge. Yet the few students who are illegal immigrants are finding out that there is an extra obstacle to attending college:

The promise only pays in-state tuition, and state law requires illegal immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition.

So undocumented students must make up the difference…

Under Colorado state law undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition no matter how long they've lived in the United States.

According to one source, the difference in tuition can be huge; $5,922 for in-state residents taking 12 credit hours at Colorado University-Boulder compared to $25,400 for out-of-state residents. Furthermore, federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from getting federal student aid and the mayor’s office.

Yet despite the disappointment of not having all their tuition covered by the promise, the graduating undocumented students are thankful of the opportunity to improve their lives:

"I was like, 'Yeah, right,' " said one student, now 18, who did not give her name for fear of deportation. "But as the years went by, I was like, 'Maybe this is true. I'm going to be able to go to college.' "

Sources- Denver Post, KMGH Denver, Los Angeles Times

Image- University of Alaska Southeast

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