CPR/Pat Mack

Colorado’s legislative session officially ended on Wednesday, May 11, and Governor Polis has been busy signing the passed bills into law.  

Here are five bills that became law in the 2022 session that most impact college students:

  1. Securing the right to abortion in Colorado

Colorado’s “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” or HB22-1279, was crafted in response to the anticipated assault on national abortion rights nationwide. The law—signed by Governor Jared Polis on April 4, ensures that women in Colorado will have access to abortions, and bans local and state entities from creating restrictions on abortion access. 

The bill also protects access to contraceptives (i.e. birth control). In the context of the leaked draft opinion which is slated to overturn Roe v. Wade, the bill makes Colorado one of just 19 states to enshrine the right to abortion in law. 

From the bill’s summary:

“The bill declares that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

More information on the bill, including its full text, can be found HERE.

  1. Preventing the withholding of student transcripts

The bill “Transcript and Diploma Withholding”, (HB22-1049), makes it illegal for colleges and universities to withhold a transcript as a means of collecting student debts, or to withhold the diploma until debts are paid. The new law, signed by Governor Jared Polis on April 22, also disallows charging higher diploma fees because a student or former student has debts to the institution of higher learning.

More information on the bill, including its full text, can be found HERE

  1. Providing in-state tuition for graduates of Colorado high schools

“In-state Tuition For Colorado High School Graduates”, or HB22-155, revises the requirements to be eligible for in-state tuition for public Colorado colleges and universities, and was signed into law on May 26. 

Previously, Colorado law required that for students to qualify for in-state tuition rates, they needed to attend a high school in Colorado for three years before they completed high school, or before they passed a high school equivalency exam. The previous roles also required that students were admitted to a college or university within a year of their graduation or passage of the high school equivalency test. 

The new requirements are significantly relaxed—any student who has graduated from a Colorado high school, or who was physically present in Colorado for at least one year before they passed a high school equivalency examination can qualify for in-state tuition, just as long as they have been living in Colorado for the last 12 months. The bill also does away with the requirement that students be admitted to college within 12 months of graduation to remain eligible.

More information on the bill, including its full text, can be found HERE

  1. Funding education for foster care youth 

The bill “Higher Education Support for Foster Youth” (SB22-008) lays out requirements for Colorado colleges and universities to provide financial assistance (half the remainder of the students’ attendance costs after private, state, and federal assistance) for students who are Colorado residents—and who were in foster care or kinship care within Colorado on or after the age of 13. 

Higher education institutions are required to designate a liaison to serve these students, and the state will establish a Foster Care Student Navigator Office, with four regional navigators providing guidance to students. In all, the state will set aside $2.7 million for aid to foster students.

The bill was formally signed into law by Governor Polis on May 26. 

More information on the bill, including its full text, can be found HERE

  1. Paving the way for more inclusive higher education

The bills “Improve Higher Education For Students With A Disability” (HB22-1555) and Inclusive Higher Education Opportunities (HB22-1107) are both aimed at providing improved resources for disabled students. 

The former requires the Colorado Department of Higher Education to collect and submit data regarding the academic outcomes of students with disabilities, and sets up the Postsecondary Services Advisory Committee, which will make recommendations to colleges and the Colorado legislature about how to best ensure success for disabled students—including best practices and necessary services. 

The Committee must submit reports to the Education Committee in both chambers of the Colorado legislature in 2023 and 2024. The bill was signed into law by Governor Polis on May 26.

The latter bill, signed into law the same day, appropriates $450,000 for the 2022-23 fiscal year to administer grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand higher education programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and requires an annual report of the program outcomes and effectiveness.