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Colorado Policy

Updated As Of: March 21, 2017

As of April 29, 2013, qualified undocumented students became eligible for in-state tuition in the state of Colorado.
    • ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) Bill (SB-13-033) Student Eligibility Requirements
      • Must have attended a public or private high school in Colorado for at least three years immediately preceding graduation
      • Must have been admitted to or already attend a public college or university in Colorado within 12 months of graduating or completing a GED
      • Must sign affidavit stating that they have applied for lawful presence or will apply as soon as they are able
Qualifying students are eligible for the college opportunity fund stipend may be eligible for institutional or other financial aid.
Students who qualify for all other requirements but were not aditted to an institution within 12 months after graduating or completing a general equivalency diploma may still be classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes as long as they have been physically preent in Colorado on a continuous basis for at least 18 months prior to enrolling.
  • HB 1178 was proposed in 2003 to provide undocumented students with in-state tuition, but the bill was posptoned indefinitely.
  • In 2004, HB 1132 was introduced. If passed, it would have given qualified undocumented students access to in-state tuition. Later in the year, HB 1187 was introduced as a response to HB 1132 and would have restricted in-state tuition to citizens and foreign nationals with legal status. Neither bill was passed.
  • The legislature introduced HB 1124 to provide undocumented students with in-state tuition, but it failed to pass.
  • Passed in 2006, HB 1023 effectively made undocumented students ineligible for in-state tuition by requiring all persons over the age of eighteen to provide proof of their lawful status in the United States prior to receiving certain public benefits.
  • The Metro State College of Denver Board of Trustees approved in-state tuition for undocumented students who graduate from a Colorado high school in 2012. That same year, Colorado Heights University started giving qualified undocumented students in-state tuition rates.
  • On April 29, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed the ASSET bill (SB 13-033), into law. Qualified undocumented students are now eligible for in-state tuition in the state of Colorado. 
  • Colorado e-Verify laws, CRS 8-17.5-101 & 102, HB 1343, became effective in 2006. The law requires contractors who enter into or renew public contracts for services with a state agency or political subdivision to participate in either E-Verify or the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Program.
  • In 2008, the e-Verify laws were amended by SB 193 to exclude certain services.
  • As of October 2010, Denver city ordinance requires contractors to use E-Verify to validate new employee employment eligibility.
  • Similar to Arizona bill HB 1070, SB 54 was an anti-immigration bill that died in Congress in 2011.
  • In October 2011, ACLU sent a letter prohibiting the current practice of School Resource Officers (SROs) collaborating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • HB 1258, enacted April 26, 2013, repeals a portion of statute that formerly compelled local officials to participate in federal immigration issues.
  • HB 1098 was introduced in 2013 and has been postponed indefinitely. The bill would have made the use of e-Verify a requirement for all employers.
  • SB 251, enacted in 2013, repeals a prohibition against issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person who is not lawfully present in the U.S. The driver's license or identification card will indicate that the holder is not a citizen of the United States.
  • In 2013, El Paso County adopted the 287(g) program which permits local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law.
  • SB 61 was introduced in 2014, if it passes, it will require the court to refer undocumented immigrants to the ICE after a felony conviction.
  • ACLU of Colorado is affiliated with the national organization and works to protect the rights of all people through legal and educational work.
  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is a statewide coalition devoted to welcoming and improving the lives of immigrants and refugees. 

  • Higher Education Access Alliance is a coalition of advocates and organizations that are dedicated to promoting affordable higher education for all Colorado high school graduates. Their website provides a lot of information for students, parents, and administrators on qualifying for in-state tuition.

  • Padres & Jóvenes Unidos works for immigrant education rights, among other issues.

  • Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network provides pro-bono legal services to detained immigrants.

  • Stand for Children Leadership Center: Their mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education.  

  • Together Colorado is a non-partisan community organization that trains and equips volunteer and faith leaders to resolve community issues such as immigration and education.

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.