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CU President Won't Say if He Favors Reduced Tuition for Unducumented Students

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In an article about a hearing Tuesday before the State Legislature's Joint Budget Committee, EdNews Colorado reported CU President Bruce Benson's latest thinking on state legislation that would create a reduced tuition rate for undocumented students in Colorado.

EDNews: [Benson] said formally supporting such legislation is up to the Board of Regents, and "the regents are kind of split on these things." Benson added that charging undocumented students high tuition "just doesn't make any sense" but added "I'm not going to tell you exactly how I feel."

But Benson, who was the Republican nominee for governor in 1994, did tell the Denver Post in June exactly how he felt about Metropolitan State University's decision earlier this year to reduce its tuition rate for undocumented students.

Benson told The Denver Post at the time:

"There's a building down the street from me with a gold dome on top of it," Benson said, referring to the state Capitol, not far from his downtown office. "And they took a vote that, in effect, decided the state policy...."
"Federally, we have policies where we demand that things are done when kids are in K (kindergarten) through 12, but then we say, 'the heck with you' when it comes to higher ed," Benson said. "If we have a federal policy for K-12, then we need one for higher ed too.

"But having said that, I wouldn't have done what Metro did. If the legislature didn't pass anything, then that's it."

State legislators on the JBC grilled Metro officials Tuesday, as they'd done in the Spring, about its reduced tuition rate for undocumented students.

EdNews reported:
"The actions you took broke federal law and broke state law" [Rep. Cheri Gerou] said, adding that Metro had violated correct processes in taking its action.

"I actually respectfully disagree with 'violating process,'" responded Metro President Steve Jordan, adding, "I disagree with Rep. Gerou's interpretation of federal law..."

Gerou replied, "Thank you gentlemen. I don't agree with you, but that doesn't really matter." Referring to the issue's prospects in the 2013 legislative session, she said, "I think we're going to do something about that. ... We need to make sure these students are successful. I don't want to set them up for failure."

EdNews should have pointed out that Gerou, a Republican, struck a more conciliatory tone this week than she did in June, when she said Metro's decision could affect the University's future funding from the legislature. And she said in June that the tuition issue was more of a federal problem than a state one.

A group of 10 Republicans, including House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, subsequently sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper informing him that "several state legislators have already begun drafting legislation to overturn the Metro State action and reaffirm legislative authority over tuition classifications."

The status of this draft legislation, as well as Gerou's specific thoughts on ASSET should have been reported by EdNews.