The Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) was established in 1965 by the legislature. The CCHE replaced an association which met informally to consider matters related to higher education.
In 1985 the legislature gave the Commission increased authority and specific directives through the passage of House Bill 1187. Specific responsibilities include developing long-range plans for an evolving state system of higher education:
- Review and approve degree programs.
- Establish the distribution formula for higher education funding; recommend statewide funding levels to the legislature.
- Approve institutional capital construction requests; recommend capital construction priorities to the legislature.
- Develop policies for institutional and facility master plans.
- Administer statewide student financial assistance programs through policy development, program evaluation, and allocation of funds.
- Develop and administer a statewide off-campus (extended studies), community service, and continuing education program.
- Determine institutional roles and missions.
- Establish statewide enrollment policies and admission standards.
- Conduct special studies as appropriate or directed, regarding statewide education policy, finance, or effective coordination.
CCHE's mission is to provide access to high-quality, affordable education for all Colorado residents that is student-centered, quality driven and performance-based. CCHE’s primary "customers" are Colorado students and citizens. CCHE is committed to providing the best quality education at the best price with the best possible service for its customers.
In January, 2008, Senate Bill 08-018 made the Department of Higher Education (DHE) separate from CCHE in order to clarify the individual roles of the DHE and CCHE. The bill was a clean-up bill intended to streamline Title 23 and make it more coherent. The legislation, supported by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE):
- eliminated outdated provisions
- revised sections where "CCHE" should be "DHE" or vice versa,
- removed sections that were not necessary or for good reason were not able to be implemented; and
- made other changes required by sound policy, such requiring program review of private schools’ teacher preperation programs.
These revisions to certain sections in Title 23 enabled DHE to operate more efficiently.