In June, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Colorado State University Chancellor Joe Blake, and CSU President Tony Frank announced a groundbreaking new program that will assure that qualified low- and middle-income Colorado students can afford a world-class education at the state’s premier institution, Colorado State University.
As part of CSU’s Commitment to Colorado, beginning in Fall 2011, undergraduate students whose families earn less than $57,000 per year (the state’s median family income) will pay half-price tuition at CSU. That represents a potential savings of more than $2,600 a year. Pell Grant-eligible undergraduate students will not be required to pay any tuition or fees, saving them roughly $6,500 annually.
Colorado State is one of only a handful of public universities in the entire nation making this type of commitment to middle-class, in-state students. We are doing it because we want to ensure that all qualified Colorado students have access to a premier research university education, which is essential to getting the most competitive jobs in today’s marketplace and in driving our country’s and our state’s economies.
People have asked me where the money for this program is coming from, and I am proud to tell them that careful management of University expenses and reallocation of resources into the financial aid program during the past several years is helping to get Commitment to Colorado off the ground. A very small amount of the recent tuition increase - about $17 per student - will go to support this new program. Certainly, not every student will personally benefit from that $17 investment, nor will every student personally benefit from the portion of their tuition that goes to add a new professor in a College not affiliated with their major. But the combination of all of our efforts makes CSU a strong, stable, and competitive University, able to attract top, academically qualified students, regardless of family income.
Our goal moving forward is to partner with individuals, families, corporations, and foundations that share our dedication to the promise of higher education and the importance of access, and support the program through funds raised through the Campaign for Colorado State University.
About 21 percent of CSU’s undergraduate Colorado residents would qualify for Commitment to Colorado, which means nearly 3,800 students could be positively affected by this landmark program. However, the true impact of this program will be seen in the future, through the eyes of Colorado students who are qualified to go to college, but until now have not had the money to consider working toward a degree. When I hear comments from Colorado residents, such as 16-year-old Jasmine Alvarado, of Milliken, Colo., and her dad, Joe Braccio, my resolve to make Commitment to Colorado a success grows even stronger.
“I think about it all the time, how I’m going to pay for college. A program like this could open a lot of opportunities for me,” Jasmine said recently. Joe, who did not have the opportunity to go to college, is resolute about his daughter getting her degree. “My goal in life is to make sure my kids get the best education possible, no matter what it takes. Commitment to Colorado could help us all achieve that goal,” he said.
It’s hard to argue with that, and it is hard to argue with the potential impact that Colorado State University’s Commitment to Colorado can have on talented, hardworking individuals, our state, and our nation. To find out more about this groundbreaking initiative check out www.colostate.edu/commitment.