9:35 am - Sunday September 24, 2017

ASSET Bill Provides Assets to Colorado

Kathleen Ryan

DENVER – The Colorado State Senate today will have its final vote on the ASSET Bill before sending it to the House. A new study looks at the fiscal effects of the measure, which would let immigrant students who graduated from Colorado high schools qualify for in-state college tuition.

Ana is one of those potential beneficiaries. She asked that her last name not be used. Ana graduated from a Denver-area high school in 2011 and is working as a volunteer. She came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, and dreams of a college education. But she, and her twin sister, can’t afford the current out-of-state tuition rates.

“Right now it’s very hard,” she said. “It costs a fortune to go to school, and if we get ASSET we’d be able to go to school, and with this whole deferred action, we could also get a job. It’d be definitely easier for us.”

Ana hopes to study either political science or quantum mechanics in college. And a new study finds that students like Ana could offer major financial benefits to the state. The Colorado Fiscal Institute analysis finds that a Colorado worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $20,000 more annually than one with only a high school diploma, meaning $1600 more in taxes to state and local governments.

Chris Stiffler, who conducted the study for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, said that since Colorado doesn’t currently offer assistance to these students, they’re turning to other states that do, such as Kansas.

“These immigrants are identifying the ones who are college-bound, they’re going to be contributors,” he declared. “And by not offering them in-state tuition, that’s just more or less driving those ones out of our state to Kansas. We’re driving the best ones out.”

Ana said she’s hurt by people who say she and her sister are leeching off the system. Her family moved to the U.S. because of the drug wars in Mexico, and they’re trying to become legal citizens.

“I’d tell them that if they put themselves in my shoes they would be telling a different story,” she said. “They wouldn’t even be saying those things.”

The study estimates that if there were just 150 ASSET graduates in a year, that would account for $240,000 in additional tax revenue annually, and more than $3 million in added spending.

The full report is at ColoradoASSET.com.

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