The bill that would make undocumented students eligible for resident tuition rates passed the Senate Education Committee 6-3 Thursday, with one Republican - freshman GOP Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs - joining five Democrats in support.

Legislative hearing
Students listen quietly to testimony during ASSET bill hearing on Jan. 24.

The committee heard nearly two hours of testimony from 20 witnesses, only one of whom opposed the bill.

Supporters of the bill, who ranged from Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and college presidents to students and business leaders, repeatedly stressed that the bill is needed to give undocumented students hope, to recoup the investment the state made in those students’ K-12 education and to strengthen the quality of the state’s workforce.

“The governor and I support this bill because we want Colorado to have a strong economy,” Garcia said.

“Please allow my dreams to flourish,” said Yesenya Saucedo, a student at Denver’s Bruce Randolph School.

Testimony in Tweets

  • See the bottom of this article for a recap of testimony as told in EdNews Tweets.

The Colorado ASSET bill represents good return on investment,” said Gail Klapper of Colorado Forum, whose 70 member CEOs unanimously supported the bill.

Committee approval of Senate Bill 13-033 was expected, as is its ultimate passage by the full legislature, given Democratic control of the General Assembly.

Previous versions of the proposal have proposed undocumented tuition rates higher than in-state tuition but below out-of-state rates, which is what undocumented students have to pay now.

To be eligible students will have to:

  • Have attended a Colorado high school for three years prior to graduation or finishing a GED.
  • Be admitted to a state college or university.
  • Provide an affidavit stating they have applied for lawful residency in the U.S. or will apply as soon as they are able.

Such students would not be eligible for state financial aid, but would be eligible for institutional and private aid.

Nancy McCallin, president of the state community college system, testified in support of the bill and noted non-resident tuition at her schools is about $14,000 a year while the resident rate is about $3,300.

A legislative staff analysis of the bill estimates $2 million of additional tuition revenue would be generated by the policy in 2013-14 and that up to 500 students would participate in the program next year.

Last year Senate Education supported a different version of the bill on a 4-3 party-line vote after a hearing that lasted nearly three hours. That bill passed the full Senate and even squeaked out of the House Education Committee 7-6 with one Republican vote. But the measure died two days later in the House Finance Committee on a party-line vote. In 2012 Republicans controlled the House with a one-vote majority.

Former Democratic state Rep. Val Vigil introduced the first ASSET-type bill in 2000 and tried three more times to get it passed without success. He testified in support of the new bill Thursday.

Voting for the bill were Democratic Sens. Evie Hudak of Westminster, Mike Johnston of Denver (a prime sponsor), Nancy Todd of Aurora, Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Rollie Heath of Boulder, along with freshman GOP Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs. Voting no were Republican Sens. Mark Scheffel of Parker, Scott Renfroe of Greeley and Vicki Marble of Fort Collins.