In-State Tuition OK for Children of Illegal Immigrants, AG Says

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has decided that state residents who are U.S. citizens may pay in-state college tuition even if their parents are illegal immigrants.

Suthers’ opinion came as some state-supported colleges tried to charge out-of-state tuition to un-emancipated citizen-residents because of their parents’ undocumented status.Schools, including Metro State College in Denver, Adams State and the University of Colorado at Denver claimed they had no choice if they were to obey a new state law that sought to keep illegal immigrants from garnering state benefits.

Suthers ruled that the children – not their parents – were the beneficiaries of in-state tuition.

“It is important to note that U.S. citizens who are the children of persons not lawfully in this country must, just like any other child, establish that their families were domiciled in Colorado during the preceding 12 months,” Suthers added.

The ruling was good news for Colorado higher education chief David Skaggs who sought Suthers’ opinion to get a uniform policy across the public college system. Skaggs also wanted resident-citizens to pay in-state tuition regardless of their parents’ legal status. Skaggs had promised to seek a change in the law if Suthers ruled against the students.

Metro State president Stephen Jordan also was relieved by the AG’s decision. Last week, Jordan instituted a provisional in-state admissions policy for resident-citizens with illegal immigrant parents. But Metro would have reverted to an out-of-state tuition charge if Suthers had rendered a different decision.

For many students, the difference in cost between in-state and out-of-state tuition is the difference between going to college and not going to college. At Metro in-state tuition is  $3,000 a year, Out-of-state tuition is $11,000 a year, a difference of $8,000.

Additional stories by Jim Spencer on this subject: