DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis on Monday was signing seven new education bills into law, on issues from student loans and financial aid to limits on suspensions for younger students.
Here's a breakdown of each one:
Limits on suspending younger students
HB19-1194 limits suspensions and expulsions for preschoolers through second-graders. The exceptions to the rule would only include serious offenses, including safety, drug or weapon issues. Supporters of the bill argued that suspending younger children is ineffective.
Sponsors: Rep. Susan Lontine, Rep. Colin Larson, Sen. Kevin Priola, Sen. Rhonda Fields.
More | Colorado lawmakers approve limits on suspension, expulsion of preschool to 2nd-grade students
Incentive for saving for college
HB19-1280 creates an incentive for parents to create a college savings account. Any parent of a child who is born or adopted in Colorado on or after Jan. 1, 2020, can claim $100 from the state's CollegeInvest program when they create a college savings account.
Sponsors: Rep. Leslie Herod, Rep. KC Becker, Sen. Stephen Fenberg.
Making ASSET students eligible for financial aid
HB19-1196 makes undocumented students in the state's ASSET program eligible to receive financial aid. The ASSET program – Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow – allows eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.
Sponsors: Rep. Serena Gonzalez-Gutierrez, Sen. Dominick Moreno.
Tax credit for early childhood educators
HB19-1005 gives an income tax credit to early-childhood educators who hold an early-childhood professional credential and who work in either an early childhood program or a childcare home.
Sponsors: Rep. Janet Buckner, Rep. James Wilson, Sen. Nancy Todd, Sen. Kevin Priola.
Regulating student loan servicers
SB19-002 requires any student loan servicer for Colorado residents to be licensed by the state department of law. The bill also creates a student loan ombudsman position to help borrowers.
Sponsors: Sen. Faith Winter, Sen. Stephen Fenberg, Rep. Dylan Roberts, Rep. Dominique Jackson.
Expanding educator loan forgiveness program
SB19-003 changes the name of the teacher loan forgiveness program and expands the program, providing up to 100 new participants each year. The loan forgiveness program repays up to $5,000 for up to five years for teachers who qualify for the program. The program targets teachers and educators in hard-to-fill positions.
Sponsors: Sen. Rachel Zensinger, Sen. Don Coram, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, Rep. Bob Rankin.
Increasing student-aid application rates
HB19-1187: Aimed at increasing the number of student-aid application rates, this bill provides $250,000 each year for the next three years toward educating students and their families on completing the applications for federal and state student aid.
Sponsors: Rep. James Coleman, Sen. Jeff Bridges.