AURORA -- University of Colorado student leaders plan to lobby the Democratic-controlled state Legislature this year for a bill that would cut tuition for undocumented students who grew up in Colorado but are charged non-resident rates.
Tyler Quick, chairman of the Intercampus Student Government and a student government executive from the Boulder campus, gave a report to the regents at a meeting Wednesday at the Anschutz Medical Campus.
He said students' legislative priorities this upcoming session will include increased funding for higher education and supporting a measure to bring tuition for Colorado's undocumented students closer in line with in-state rates.
Legislation that would have created a new tuition tier -- between current in-state and out-of-state rates -- for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the state for at least three years died in the state House last session when Republicans had a majority. In the general election this month, Democrats gained control of the chamber.
Quick said student leaders are "adamant" about the passage of the state legislation, known as ASSET.
Now, undocumented students -- even if they've grown up in Colorado and graduate from Colorado high schools -- pay out-of-state rates at CU. In-state tuition in the College of Arts and Sciences is $8,056, compared with $29,946 for incoming nonresident students.
Quick said CU is losing qualified -- but undocumented -- students to states like Kansas and Texas that offer lower rates for undocumented immigrants with ties to the United States.
"I think that's a bad business decision," he said.
He told the board it makes sense to continue investing in students who have gone through the public education system in Colorado.
The Republican-controlled Board of Regents last year supported ASSET in a 5-4 vote in which Republican Regent Tillie Bishop sided with the Democrats. Bishop will be replaced this winter by regent-elect Glen Gallegos, a Grand Junction Republican.
Regent Joe Neguse, a Boulder Democrat who has been a vocal supporter of the legislation, said in an interview that he plans to support the Legislature this year with its efforts to make tuition more affordable for Colorado's undocumented students.
At Wednesday's meeting, Bishop asked about what CU student government leaders plan to do in light of the passage of Amendment 64, which legalizes marijuana for those 21 and older.
Quick responded: "We'd like some revenue from marijuana legalization to go toward higher education."
The regents previously passed a resolution in opposition of Amendment 64.
During his report, Quick told the board that voter turnout on the Boulder campus skyrocketed to 92.5 percent in this month's general election, making it one of the most politically engaged campuses in the country.
Nationally, voter turnout on college campuses hovered closer to 50 percent, he said.