DENVER (Oct. 8 2021)-To encourage more Coloradans to continue their education, Governor Jared Polis announced today that all 32 public colleges and universities in Colorado, as well as several private institutions will allow students to apply for free from Tuesday, Oct. 19 through Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 as part of the fourth annual Colorado Free Application Days.
“Earning a certificate or degree gives Coloradans the best opportunity to thrive in the profession of their choice,” said Gov. Polis. “Colorado is building back stronger and by eliminating this cost barrier, more Coloradans will have the opportunity to pursue those dreams. We need homegrown Colorado talent and bold ideas to make Colorado better than ever.”
The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) has posted admissions application and fee waiver information in English and Spanish for each participating college and university. The period caps off Colorado Applies Month, a five-week, statewide campaign that encourages high school juniors, seniors, and adults to select an education or training option that’s best for them and apply to that program. This year the program has been extended from one day to three days.
“By extending Colorado Free Application Day to Colorado Free Application Days, we’re giving students even more time to pick their path and make a difference in their future,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, Executive Director of CDHE. “With so many options available, whether you go to college, technical school, attend a university, become an apprentice, or join the military, there’s a program in Colorado that will unlock your potential.”
The statewide push is designed to increase Colorado’s postsecondary-going and Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates. Despite being one of the most educated states in the country, Colorado sends 56% of its high school seniors to a college, university or certificate program, and roughly 50% of students submit a FAFSA application — a major source of financial aid and a key indicator of student success.
During last year’s campaign, students turned in nearly 57,000 applications, nearly half of which came from students of color and a third of which came from first-generation students. Statewide, 2020 application submissions were up 23% compared to 2019.
Colorado Free Application Day aims to improve access to further education and training, which is becoming increasingly critical for Colorado’s economy and workforce amidst the global pandemic. Research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that nearly 75% of jobs in Colorado require some education beyond high school, yet only 61% of the adult population in Colorado has earned a degree or certificate.
In response to these workforce demands, the Colorado Department of Higher Education set a goal of reaching 66% attainment by 2025 in the statewide plan for higher education, Colorado Rises. Increasing postsecondary enrollment and reducing equity gaps - the racial disparities in educational attainment - are priority strategies to improve access and reduce costs for Coloradans.