The Colorado House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday to allow qualified undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition at public universities.

After 10 years of negotiations and seven previous rejections, the measure passed by a vote of 40-21, with three Republicans joining the Democratic majority in support.

The bill, SB13-33, co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Mike Johnston and Angela Giron, says that those who benefit from it must have graduated from a Colorado high school.

They must also have lived at least three straight years in the state, and must sign a sworn statement saying they have begun the process of regularizing their immigration status or that they will start the process as soon as possible.

During its first year in force, the measure will benefit some 500 students.

In 2006, the Colorado legislature passed a package of measures including one banning any public benefits for undocumented persons.

Since it was considered that the beneficiaries of reduced tuitions were the parents and not the students, many young college students with their papers in order had to pay the much higher foreign-student tuition because of their undocumented parents.

Bills to remedy that situation were proposed in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

All were rejected.

The enactment of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last August spurred Johnston and Giron to draft SB13-33.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has indicated he will sign the bill.

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