State Higher Ed Chief Wants In-state Tuition for Citizens Whose Parents Are Undocumented

Colorado’s director of higher education wants students who are U.S. citizens and Colorado residents to pay in-state college tuition, even if their parents are undocumented.

In an interview Thursday, David Skaggs, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Higher Education, called in-state tuition for U.S. citizens and state residents “a matter of equity and decency.”

If he can’t get that result under existing law, Skaggs said, he will seek a legislative fix.

Some state colleges, including Metro State College of Denver, now claim that a new state law requires them to charge out-of-state tuition to students who are citizens and state residents, but whose parents are not in the country legally.

“Because state statutes make resident tuition for an un-emancipated student under age 23 available only if the student’s parents are domiciled in Colorado, there is a question as to whether parents who are not legal residents of the U.S may nonetheless have established legal domicile for purposes of their child’s qualification for resident tuition,” Skaggs said in a written statement released to me Thursday morning.

Skaggs has asked Colorado Attorney General John Suthers for an opinion on the matter.

"We expect thay opinion soon," Skaggs said in his statement. "I hope it will resolve the issue in favor of students in these circumstances being treated uniformly by Colorado colleges and charged resident student tuition."

If Suthers rules against the immigrant children, Skaggs said he will go to the General Assembly for a new law that will allow in-state tuition for students who are U.S. citizens and Colorado residents, regardless of their parents’ legal status.

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Jim Spencer

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