The president of Metropolitan State College of Denver is appealing to Latinos to back his decision to reduce tuition for undocumented immigrants, a move that some in the Colorado legislature want to undo.
In a letter written particularly to Hispanic leaders in Colorado, Stephen Jordan said that two weeks after the MSCD board voted in favor of cutting tuition starting this August, the state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee called a hearing Wednesday to analyze the legality of the measure.
“I ask you, if your busy schedule allows it, to attend the meeting (with the lawmakers),” Jordan said in his letter.
The MSCD initiative creates an intermediate tuition level that is above what Colorado legal residents pay, but substantially below the costs faced by out-of-state or foreign students.
The dispute came about, Jordan said, because some lawmakers consider it up to the legislature and not each individual university to decide whether to implement or not an intermediate tuition level in Colorado.
In its session this year, the Colorado legislature defeated the bill that was subsequently used as the basis for the measure recently adopted by MSCD.
That bill, SB12-15, had been passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but not by the lower house where Republicans have a majority.
Some lawmakers have expressed concern that MSCD is undermining their authority since SB12-15 was defeated this year. Meanwhile Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is reviewing the case to determine whether the university has the legal authority to create a special tuition category for non-residents, Jordan said in his message to the Latino community.
Jordan said that MSCD does have the authority to establish the special tuition level for non-residents who graduated from Colorado high schools since in this state, according to the law, each university decides its own tuition levels.
He also said that students who benefit from the new tuition category will not receive state or federal financial aid - they must pay all the other costs associated with taking courses at MSCD and must meet all the same academic requirements to enroll as all other students.
Under Jordan’s plan, undocumented students at MSCD would pay almost $7,200 per year, compared with the $4,300 that legal residents pay and the almost $16,000 that students from outside Colorado pay.
According to Jordan, 420 undocumented students will benefit immediately from the tuition cut at his university.