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In-state tuition for DREAMers now law

Qualified undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition at Colorado’s public higher education institutions under the ASSET bill. The requirements are similar to those of MSU Denver’s Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate listed below. Learn more here.


Understanding Metropolitan State University of Denver’s
Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate

MSU Denver is Colorado's urban land-grant institution of higher education offering individualized, relevant undergraduate and graduate degrees to more Coloradans than any other four-year state college or university.

Almost all of MSU Denver’s students (97 percent) come from Colorado and 91 percent are from the seven-county metro area. Almost 32 percent are students of color—a greater percentage than served by any other four-year institution in Colorado.

MSU Denver's Board of Trustees voted at its June 7 meeting to offer a new non-resident tuition rate to students who live in Colorado but don't qualify for a resident tuition rate because they cannot prove lawful presence.

Since the trustees’ vote, Attorney General John Suthers rendered an opinion on the legality of their decision at the request of other state institutions interested in establishing similar non-resident tuition rates. The opinion states that the new rate creates a "public benefit," which can be given only to individuals who can prove their lawful presence in the United States.

In response, our Board of Trustees has issued the following statement:

When MSU Denver’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the Colorado High School/GED Nonresident Tuition rate earlier this month, we reviewed current state statute and deemed this as a legitimate policy within the Trustees’ authority, based on:

  1. The structure of nonresident tuition rates by state higher education institutions are not required to be authorized by the state legislature; and
  2. This nonresident tuition rate contained no state subsidy.

It was the Board of Trustees and MSU Denver’s administration intent to enhance our role and mission and provide access and affordability to all of Colorado’s high school students.  It was never our intent to disregard Colorado’s law or its legislature, and we do not believe we have done this.

On June 20, MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan and Trustee Melody Harris attended a previously scheduled appearance before the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee that was also attended by Deputy Attorney General David Blake. The meeting was a fact-finding exercise and the JBC did not take any action.  MSU Denver, however, has contracted with outside counsel to assist them in any further legislative or judicial actions.

Following are answers to questions being asked by interested parties, including potential undocumented students.


What is the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate?

The Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate is a new tuition rate available starting in the 2012-13 academic year. It was approved by a 7-1 vote of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees.

This new non-resident tuition rate  does not include any subsidy from the taxpayers of the State of Colorado or the federal government.

In-state, resident student tuition is partially subsidized by Colorado taxpayers through the College Opportunity Fund (COF) and fee for service allocations. This is how the various rates compare for 15 credit hours per academic year (two semesters):

  • Colorado resident tuition = $4,304.40
  • Non-resident tuition = $15,985.20
  • Colorado High School/GED rate = $7,157.04


Can students admitted under the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition rate get financial aid?

Students who are undocumented  are not eligible to receive state or federal financial aid. They also are not eligible for student loans.


Do students admitted at the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate have to pay student fees?

Yes. All MSU Denver students are responsible for mandatory student fees and, if applicable, student health insurance.


Who is eligible for the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate?

This non-resident rate is designed for students who live in Colorado, have attended a Colorado high school, and are not able to document the legal status that would make them eligible for resident tuition rates under current Colorado and federal law. Certain U.S. citizens may also qualify for the rate.  There are three specific conditions for qualifying:


  • The student must have attended a Colorado high school for at least three years.
  • The student must have graduated from a Colorado high school or completed a general equivalency diploma (GED) in Colorado.
  • The student must submit a notarized affidavit which states, except for their immigration status, he or she is in good legal standing and is seeking or intends to seek lawful status when eligible.


It is important to note that this new non-resident rate covers the cost of education at MSU Denver without any public state or federal subsidy. The rate  includes the calculated cost of the students' use of facilities which have been funded in part by Colorado taxpayers.

The Colorado High School/GED Tuition Non-resident Rate supports MSU Denver's mission to provide access to an affordable college education to the most diverse student population possible.


Why give a special rate to undocumented students?

Even though MSU Denver has the lowest non-resident tuition rate of any Colorado four-year institution, it is still out of reach for many students, including those students who, through no fault of their own, do not have legal status. MSU Denver's mission is to provide the opportunity for a college education to as many students as desire it and who otherwise meet our admissions standards. The trustees, administration and faculty of MSU Denver believe, and research has shown, that a well-educated workforce benefits society and the economy by providing, among other things, more tax revenues and greater productivity; increased workforce flexibility; reduced crime rates and a better quality of civic engagement and life.


Isn't providing a special non-resident tuition rate for undocumented residents a decision for the Colorado State Legislature to make?

The state legislature has considered providing in-state  tuition rates for undocumented students on six occasions. The most recent attempt in the 2012 legislative session, SB12- 015 (the ASSET bill)  also failed even though it was supported by most of Colorado's public colleges and universities. 

After the ASSET bill failed in the 2012 legislative session, President Stephen Jordan proposed the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate to the Board of Trustees.

Is MSU Denver the first university to offer a special non-resident tuition rate to undocumented students?

MSU Denver is the first college or university in Colorado to offer a non-resident tuition rate, but it is far from the first institution in the country to do so. Thirteen states offer in-state tuition to undocumented students.

•    Texas, New Mexico and California offer in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented students.
•    Utah, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Maryland have various laws and policies allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

Does MSU Denver have the authority to set tuition rates?

Yes. Under state law the governing body of each state college and university has the authority to set its own resident and nonresident tuition rates.


Does MSU Denver’s tuition increase have anything to do with the decision to offer a non-resident tuition rate to undocumented students?

No. The tuition increase is part of the institution’s 2010 Financial Accountability Plan 


How many students will receive the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate?

MSU Denver currently has approximately 120 undocumented students enrolled who are paying non-resident tuition. We estimate about 300 new students from the seven-county metropolitan Denver area might take advantage of the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate in the 2012-13 academic year.

Does this decision have anything to do with MSU Denver’s goal to become an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI)?

Undocumented students paying the new non-resident tuition will not count toward the 25 percent Latino enrollment required to become an HSI. Adopting this tuition rate, though, will support the HSI initiative by providing a more inclusive environment for all students at MSU Denver.


Who besides undocumented students are receiving a lower tuition rate?

All legal Colorado residents who met the domicile requirements of the tuition classification statute are already eligible for MSU Denver’s in-state tuition rates that are the lowest of any four-year state college or university. In addition, MSU Denver has a procedure for non-resident students to petition to receive the resident tuition rate. More information is available on the Registrar’s website.


Do veterans get discounted tuition?

All public schools may qualify veterans and his/her dependents as in-state resident for tuition purposes depending on the circumstances, such as honorably discharged veterans or certain active-duty members. For more information go to


Is MSU Denver lowering admissions standards for these students?

No. All students seeking admission to MSU Denver must meet our admissions standards. Additionally, undocumented students must meet the three criteria outlined above.  There will be no special academic accommodation made for them.


Who do I contact if I’m a current or prospective MSU Denver student interested in qualifying for this new nonresident rate?
Current students should contact Paula Martinez, If you would like to apply to MSU Denver for the Spring 2013 semester (application deadline for fall was June 29) contact Cynthia Armendariz, or Michelle Pacheco,


For questions or comments about the new tuition rate, please email

Enrollment Questions? 
Current Student Contact:
Paula Martinez,
New Student Contacts:
Cynthia Armendariz,
Michelle Pacheco,


PDF download

Colorado High School/GED Non-Resident Tuition Rate Affidavit

If you qualify for the Colorado High School/GED Non-Resident tuition rate, this affidavit must be submitted by the application deadline for the semester you are applying for. For application deadline information visit the Admissions website.