The main thing that students who want to attend university or are already taking higher education courses should know as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is: apply for financial aid or other assistance to cover costs, and you will probably be rewarded.
“Right now is a really affordable time for people to go to college,” said Karen Kovaly, spokeswoman for Pikes Peak Community College.
The school offers two- and four-year degree and certificate programs at three main campuses in El Paso County, and also operates the Center for Healthcare Education & Simulation, the Technical Education Campus, the Studio West Art Gallery, and the education centers at Peterson Space Force Base. and Fort Carson.
The PPCC has infused its foundation-based and external scholarship funds with federal pandemic assistance, Kovaly said, allowing the school to provide more assistance than before.
And everyone is getting the free mandatory textbooks for all courses this year, Kovaly said.
“It can save some students nearly $1,000 on books per semester,” she said.
PPCC tuition is as low as $153 per credit hour for many programs, Kovaly said, though some, like nursing and online education, are more expensive.
It’s “almost half the tuition of some public schools,” she said. “So students start with less debt and find jobs without having to take four-year courses.”
For example, an aspiring welder can complete a program in three semesters and find an entry-level job that pays between $60,000 and $80,000 a year, she said.
Part of the reason tuition is lower than expected statewide is the Colorado Opportunity Fund, a stipend to entice local students to attend school in the state.
The fund reduces tuition at public colleges and universities for students who can prove they are Colorado residents.
State legislators set the reduction annually; this academic year, it’s $94 per credit hour, said Jevita Rogers, senior executive director for financial aid, student employment, and scholarships at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“It’s not based on financial need or grades — just that you’re an in-state student,” she said.
Depending on the number of credit hours taken, the savings can be substantial, Rogers said. For example, a tuition bill of $5,000 for 12 credits in a semester would qualify for a $1,128 deduction, she said.
“Enrolling is really easy, and it’s a great opportunity to help make college affordable for Colorado residents,” Rogers said.
Students at UCCS, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system, are getting an extra tuition break this year.
Although the CU Board of Trustees approved a 3% tuition hike for the 2021-22 school year, the increase is also being offset by federal pandemic relief funds earmarked for the Higher Education.
“So students haven’t seen a tuition increase for fall 2021, and spring and summer 2022,” Rogers said.
It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will authorize additional funds for COVID relief, she said, though she doesn’t expect any.
“At this point, we don’t know anything about the fall,” Rogers said.
Regents will debate and vote on campus leaders’ requests for tuition increases in April, and Governor Jared Polis must also approve tuition proposals for the coming year.
With a wide range of financial aid, from traditional scholarships based on academic achievement or household financial need to funding for specific programs and general stipends, affordability shouldn’t be an issue, Rogers said.
“Students shouldn’t overlook a school because they think they won’t get any help or it’s too expensive,” she said. “There are a lot of different options.”
Her advice is to apply early to public and private schools not only for admission but also for financial aid.
March 1 is the deadline for UCCS-specific scholarships, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is due February 1 for priority review and by April 1 for all applicants.
“For in-state students, I get an in-state scholarship stipend, but it’s not an endless supply, so it’s first come, first served,” Rogers said.
Colorado College, a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, launched a financial aid initiative in 2019 for low- and middle-income students in the state.
Tuition is $61,596 this school year, but is waived for accepted students whose families earn an adjusted gross income of less than $125,000. Students from households earning less than $60,000 also receive free room and board – worth $13,668 this year – and those with adjusted gross income between $60,000 and $125,000 pay the room and board.
For in-state students from families earning $125,000 and $250,000, the parental contribution is equal to or less than the cost of attending CU Boulder, the state’s flagship public university. Undergraduate tuition costs vary there, ranging from about $29,400 for arts and sciences to $34,700 for business degrees for students in the “guarantee tuition” group that started in 1990. fall 2021.
Colorado College raised the family income cap from $200,000 to $250,000 for this academic year to qualify for the Colorado Pledge.
Coloradans make up 19.8% of the student body this academic year, up from 16.2% in 2019-20, said Matt Bonser, director of admissions.
“We’ve seen a substantial increase in interest from Coloradans as students and families realize that CC can be an affordable, high-quality option,” he said.
The college has raised $7.3 million to fund the program and is seeking an additional $20 million to endow it.