Even though the DREAM Act has not passed, individual states are taking legislative measures to make it more affordable for their undocumented youth to go to college. Last week, the Colorado Senate came one step closer to approving SB 15, called ASSET, a tuition equity bill that would provide a standard tuition rate to qualifying students regardless of immigration status. Similar bills that would provide in-state tuition and financial aid to eligible students regardless of their immigration status are expected to pass in Hawaii and Delaware. Currently, a total of twelve states have laws on their books that permit certain undocumented students who have attended and graduated from their primary and secondary schools to pay the same tuition as their classmates at public institutions of higher education.
Last year the Colorado legislature voted on a similar tuition equity measure yet it failed to pass in the end. This year, however, SB 15 is expected to pass the House Judiciary Committee thanks to Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs), who according to reports, supports the bill and could cast the necessary swing vote. In Delaware, legislators recently introduced SB 169, a bill that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and fees, and it would also allow eligible students to apply for and receive state scholarships and grants. In Hawaii, a similar bill recently passed the Senate Education Committee. According to the University of Hawaii, the bill would help at least 1,300 students access higher education and would allow them to contribute millions of dollars to the state over the course of their lives. “Failure to pass this measure would result in significant lost revenue for the State,” the report underscored. Permitting these students to access higher education with the same benefits as resident citizens is in the public interest as it will allow these students to fully realize their economic potential and to serve as productive members of society.