CMC applauds new law expanding college access for undocumented students |

CMC applauds new law expanding college access for undocumented students

Steamboat Pilot & Today

Colorado Mountain College is among the state’s public colleges and universities supporting a new law that will expand access to higher education.

Gov. Jared Polis signed HB22-1155, which will allow in-state tuition for Colorado high school graduates, into law during a ceremony at Community College of Denver on Thursday, May 26.

The bill was advanced by Colorado Mountain College. According to CMC, it will remove several barriers that prevented thousands of undocumented high school students from qualifying for in-state tuition.

CMC added that the bill was supported by all of the public colleges and universities in Colorado, and it was endorsed by a number of business organizations on the Western Slope, including the Vail Valley Partnership and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

“We were thrilled that a pair of local legislators — Reps. Julie McCluskie and Perry Will — carried HB22-1155,” CMC President and CEO Carrie Hauser said in a news release. “This bill, also sponsored by Denver area Sens. Julie Gonzales and Dominick Moreno, will unlock opportunities to college and high-wage careers for thousands of individuals across our region and the state.

“And, though CMC was the primary instigator for the bill, it really was an effort to support mountain businesses by enabling all high school graduates to prepare for good jobs in our communities.”

According to CMC, Colorado law had placed restrictions on undocumented high school students before they could qualify for in-state tuition, including mandating the students attend a Colorado high school for three years before qualifying for the lower tuition rates.

However, all other residents must be in the state for only one year to qualify. Now, HB22-1155 will align the one-year standard for all high school graduates, regardless of their citizenship status.

Additionally, students had to enroll in college within 12 months of high school graduation to maintain their eligibility.

Now that the provision has been removed, some students who decided to work after high school could have a chance to return to college. It also could help students who delay their enrollment for other reasons.

CMC Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives Yesenia Silva Estrada participated in the bill signing ceremony in Denver.

“During my career working in our rural mountain regions I have seen thousands of students without the ability to gain an education,” Silva Estrada said at the event. “Recently, the pandemic further exacerbated these inequities.”

She added that the new law will help these students, especially those from rural communities, get back on track, fill the jobs in our local businesses, and participate in the economy.

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