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Affordability in Higher Education and Promise Programs

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 Addressing Affordability in Higher Education 

Colorado provides multiple educational options beyond high school. Our diverse public institutions of higher education offer programs to help you carry out your educational goals, whether they are short-term (like a certificate to jump-start a career), mid-range (like an associate degree), or long-term (like a bachelor’s degree).

Continuing your education beyond high school is an opportunity that all Coloradans should have, and finances should not be a barrier to pursuing your goals. That’s why the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Colorado public institutions of higher education have partnered to share information about institutional programs that address the cost of tuition.

This webpage is set up to help you navigate the multiple resources available to you by providing the basic information and the eligibility requirements.  

Promise Programs  
Across Colorado, many colleges and universities have worked to develop Promise Programs, which help remove some of the financial barriers connected with continuing your education after high school. The Promise Programs at each institution promise to cover at least the cost of tuition for eligible students. At some colleges and universities, the programs cover more than tuition. Eligibility for Promise Programs depends on each college or university’s specific eligibility requirements.  

Tax Credit Reimbursement
Beginning in Fall 2024, students who attend public institutions and have family incomes of $90,000 or less are eligible for a complete reimbursement of any out-of-pocket tuition and fees paid for their education.  

Additional Affordability Resources  
There are other scholarships, resources, and support for students. Look through the different programs and opportunities to see if there is one that is a fit for you.


How to Navigate

Before you explore the financial resources on this page, here are some important questions and key facts. 

  • What is your educational goal? This is a BIG question and it's okay if you do not have an answer but think through some smaller questions. 
    • How long do you want to stay in school?
    • Do you know what you want to study, or what subjects interest you?
    • Do you want to stay close to home? 
    • Free Tools like My Colorado Journey can help you explore educational and career goals.
       
  • Requirements and Terminology: Each opportunity has different requirements to qualify. If you are looking at a specific institutional program, we encourage you to reach out to the institution. There are links to each institution, and they will have staff to help answer your questions. Here are some general terms to consider and be aware of: 
    • Residency - Colorado Resident or qualified ASSET
    • FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA & help with FAFSA)
    • CAFSA - Is an alternative financial aid application for Colorado residents who may not qualify for the FAFSA (non-U.S. citizens) but have lived in Colorado for at least three years before graduating from high school (CAFSA Application & help with CAFSA).
    • COF - The College Opportunity Fund, state aid that is based on the number of credits (classes) you take (COF website).
    • Family Income - This figure comes from either tax filings and/or financial aid applications and is the federal government's estimate on what your family can contribute to your education.
      • SAI - Student Aid Index, calculated by the information provided on your FAFSA.
    • Student Type - Some programs are for first-time students (have never taken courses from a community college or four -year institution), transfer students (students who have attended an institution but are changing to a new institution) or continuing/current students already a student at a community college or four -year institution.
    • Ongoing Requirements - The steps you need to take to continue to qualify for the program. Each institution is different, so it is important to ask a staff member (financial aid advisor, admissions counselor, or academic advisor) 
    • Last Dollar Program - the program will cover remaining costs after all other scholarships, grants, and aid have been applied. 

Additional Resources – Even if you do not qualify for an institutional promise program, there are other financial resources available. The most important step you can take is to complete your FAFSA or CASFA! These applications are secure, safe and FREE for everyone. Completing these applications will help you gain access to grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial support.

Institutional Promise Programs

Below you will find the compiled programs that Colorado’s community colleges, colleges, and universities have to offer. Take time to explore each institution and find the right fit to help you reach your goals!

If you have questions about a specific institution and/or its promise program, please reach out to its staff (there are links to each institution below). They are excited to talk with you and answer all your questions! 

Colorado Colleges and Individual Institutional Promise Programs

Adams State University 

Institutional Information

adams state univeristy logo

Adams Promise Program

Program: Adams Promise Scholarship

  • Last dollar program to cover tuition and fees

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Family Income $70,000 or less
  • Residency: Colorado Resident from one of the following counties: Alamosa, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Cheyenne, Conejos, Crowley, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Fremont, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, Las Animas, La Plata, Lincoln, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Ouray, La Plata, Park, Pitkin, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel, or Teller
  • Be a first-time freshman or transfer student
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA
  • Must complete and receive a Colorado College Opportunity Fund (COF) 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Enrolled full-time at Adams state (on-campus or online)
  • Must maintain Satisfactory Academic Programs (SAP) 
Pikes Peak State College 

Institutional Information

Established in 1968 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Pikes Peak offers associate degrees, certifications in career and technical fields and three bachelors’ degrees. With three campuses, various off-campus locations, two military education centers, and hundreds of online classes, PPSC provides access to a quality, affordable and flexible education to more than 18,000 students annually with both credit and non-credit classes. For more information visit the Pikes Peak State College website. 

Pikes Peak State College

Institutional Promise Program

Program: Two Different Programs 

  • Two programs which are dependent on high school district attended
  • Harrison District 2
  • Colorado Springs District 11
  • Last dollar program which covers the remaining costs of on-campus tuition, fees, and books. 

Eligibility Requirements for Colorado Springs District 11 Program 

  • Graduated from: Mitchell, Coronado, Palmer, Doherty, or Opportunity Academies
  • Colorado Resident
  • Graduated with a 2.5 GPA or better
  • Minimum 90% high school attendance rate (exception on a case-by-case basis)
  • Must enroll within 3 semesters (16 months) of graduating from high school
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA and authorized COF  

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Colorado Springs District 11 Eligibility 

  • Covers up to 3-years or 60 credit hours
  • Annually complete FAFSA/CASFA
  • Maintain Financial Aid SAP requirements 

Eligibility Requirements for Harrison District 2 Program 

  • Graduated from: Harrison, Sierra, Career Readiness Academy, Atlas Prep, Aspire Online Academy, Jamies Irwin Charter High School, or The Vanguard School
  • Attended one of the above high schools for at least a full academic year
  • Graduated with a 2.25 GPA or better
  • Must enroll within 3 semesters (16 months) of graduating from high school
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA and authorized COF 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Harrison District 2 Eligibility

  • Annually complete FAFSA/CASFA
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA
  • Complete at least 24 credits each academic year
  • Covers up to 3-years or 60 credit hours 
Colorado Mesa University 

Institutional Information

Colorado Mesa University serves 10,000 students on the beautiful Western Slope of Colorado. As a Maverick, you’ll get to choose from 115+ majors and invest in your future alongside students from 48 states and 42 countries. Learn more and apply for admission online. Use the code NEWMAV to waive the $40 application fee.

Colorado Mesa University

Program: CMU Promise Program

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition.
    • This program uses a combination of federal, state, and institutional funds to pay qualified student's tuition. This program will be included in qualifying students financial aid packages as the last dollar in. Meaning once programs like the Pell Grant, Colorado Student Grant, or CMU Merit Scholarships are factored in, CMU Promise will make up the difference up to the cost of undergraduate tuition. 

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 
  • Colorado resident from one of the approved 22 western slope counties: 
    • Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Mesa, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata, San Juan, Ouray, Routt, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, Archuleta, Grand, Summit, and Lake
  • OR a member of one of the three Ute Tribes: 
    • Southern Ute, Mountain Ute, and Uintah-Ouray
  • For families with an official combined Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $65,000 or less
  • No additional application required
  • Residency will be based on Admissions Application
  • Pursuing a financial aid eligible undergraduate degree (Certificate, Associates or Bachelors) 
  • For students who do not have a prior Bachelor's degree

     

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Pursuing a financial aid eligible undergraduate degree (certificate, associates, or bachelors)
  • Max of 120 credits or receipt of first bachelors  
  • Maintain 2.0 GPA and 67% credit completion rate
  • For families with an official combined Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $65,000 or less
  • Colorado resident from one of the approved 22 western slope counties: 
    • Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Mesa, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata, San Juan, Ouray, Routt, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, Archuleta, Grand, Summit, and Lake
  • OR a member of one of the three Ute Tribes:
    • Southern Ute, Mountain Ute, and Uintah-Ouray
Colorado Mountain College 

Institutional Information

Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College offers a blend of bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and specialized certificates in programs closely aligned with the tourism, hospitality, and outdoor recreation economies of the rural resort communities in which the college operates. Visit Colorado Mountain College’s website for more information. 

Program: The Colorado Mountain Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Family income below $70,000 or independent students below $50,000
  • Colorado Residents
  • Degree or certificate seeking students
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Seeking a degree or certificate
  • Enrolled in 6 or core credits per semester
Colorado State University - Fort Collins 

Institutional Information 

At Colorado State University, we see limitless possibilities.  We’re a campus of big thinkers, or risk takers, and determined dreamers.  And we make things happen – in our labs and classrooms, in our Fort Collins community, and around the world.  We’re engaging in real-world discoveries and crossing disciplines to find better solutions. We never stop learning.  Explore with us! For more information visit the Colorado State University website.  

Colorado State University

Program: CSU Tuition Assistance Grant

  • Last dollar program which covers base tuition

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Pell Eligible based on FAFSA/CASFA application
  • Colorado Resident
  • First-time college students or transfer students
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Enrolled as a degree seeking student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester
  • Not attempted more than 130 institutional credits
  • Maintain SAP requirements 
Colorado State University - Pueblo 

Institutional Information

Colorado State University Pueblo

Program: CSU Pueblo’s Colorado Promise Scholarship

  • Last dollar program which covers in-state tuition for up to 15 credits per semester

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Family Income of $70,000 or less
  • Colorado Resident
  • First-time college students or transfer students
  • Completed a FASFA/CASFA

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Must renew annually
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester
Fort Lewis College

Institutional Information

Fort Lewis College

Fort Lewis College is the Southwest’s leading undergraduate research institution with its low student-to-faculty ratio and one-on-one, affordable instruction. The experience students gain here is responsive to industry demand and the ever-shifting landscape of higher education. FLC is also one of the country’s most diverse campuses, with over half its students identifying as people of color. With more than 55 majors to choose from, students become industry professionals, community leaders, and cutting-edge academics. 

FLC Promise Program

Program: FLC Tuition Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Family Income of $70,000 or less
  • Colorado Resident
  • New undergraduates pursuing their first bachelor’s degree (regardless of transfer status or being an incoming freshmen)
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA and completed COF 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Enrolled as degree seeking undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester
  • Maintain SAP

     

Metropolitan State University of Denver 

Institutional Information

The RoadRunner Promise Program

Program: The Roadrunner Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition and fees up to 15 credit hours per semester

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Family Income of $60,000 or less or expected family contribution (EFC) of $2400 or less
  • Colorado Resident or ASSET eligible students
  • First-time college student (for family income of <$60k)
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA and authorizing COF
  • Must be working on your first bachelor degree 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Annually complete FAFSA/CASFA
  • Undergraduate student, degree seeking
  • Semester Enrollment  
  • Enrolled in at least 1 class per term (EFC <$2400)
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester (for family income of <$60k)
  • Maintain SAP
  • Max of 10 semesters credits or receipt of first bachelors 
University of Colorado - Boulder 

Institutional Information

University of Colorado Boulder

CU Promise Program

Program: CU Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition and fees 

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • SAI below 6,657 (EFC roughly $65,000 or less)
  • Colorado Resident
  • First-time, degree seeking undergraduate students
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Degree seeking, undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester at main campus
  • Maintain SAP
University of Colorado - Colorado Springs

Institutional Information

Priority Packaging Program

Program: Priority Packaging

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition and fees

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Pell Eligible
  • Colorado Resident
  • First-time undergraduate students
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Degree seeking, undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester 
University of Colorado - Denver 

Institutional Information

University of Colorado Boulder

CU Promise Program

Program: CU Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition and fees

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Pell Eligible and family income at or below 100% of federal poverty level
  • Colorado Resident
  • First-time undergraduate or transfer student from a Colorado community college
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Degree seeking, undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester 
University of Northern Colorado 

Institutional Information

University of Northern Colorado

This program covers standard tuition and mandatory fees for all eligible undergraduate students, both current and continuing students as well as new, full-time students throughout their undergraduate education at UNC. That is our promise to you. 

UNC Tuition Promise Program

Program: UNC Tuition Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers tuition and mandatory fees 

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • Colorado Residents or eligible ASSET students undergraduates working towards their first bachelor's degree
  • Complete FAFSA or CASFA by June 1
  • Household Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) at or below $65,000 or a Student Aid Index (SAI) of 3,000 or less 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • UNC students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Undergraduate UNC students must be enrolled in 12 or more course credits 
Western Colorado University 

Institutional Information

western logo

Western Colorado University provides a unique educational experience for the bold and adventurous. With over 100 areas of study, from business to fine arts to STEM, our students have abundant opportunities to explore and discover their passions. With a focus on narrowing the gap between the cost of attendance and the student’s ability to pay, our goal is to make education not only impactful but accessible.

La Universidad de Western Colorado ofrece una experiencia educativa y única para aquellos que son audaces y aventureros. Con más de 100 áreas de estudio, desde STEM hasta los artes y los negocios, nuestros estudiantes tienen oportunidades abundantes para explorar y descubrir sus pasiones.Con un enfoque en reducir las barreras entre el costo de asistencia y la habilidad de poder financiar sus estudios, nuestro objetivo es hacer que la educación no solo haga un impacto sino que al igual sea accesible.

Mountaineer Promise Program

Program: Mountaineer Promise

  • Last dollar program which covers standard tuition and mandatory fees

Eligibility Requirements for Program

  • AGI at or below $70,000, with demonstrated need
  • Colorado Resident or ASSET eligible
  • New first-year or new transfer student as of Fall 2024
  • Completed a FAFSA/CASFA and qualify for COF 

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain Eligibility

  • Degree seeking, undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester
  • Maintain SAP 

Tax Credit Reimbursement 

Beginning in Fall 2024, students who attend Colorado public institutions of higher education with family incomes of $90,000 or less are eligible for complete reimbursement of any out-of-pocket tuition and fees they pay for postsecondary education.  

The reimbursement comes from a tax credit which covers the amount paid in tuition and fees during the prior academic year, for students in their first two years of college. This is the amount paid after scholarships and grants.  

Students attending public postsecondary institutions, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, area technical colleges and local district colleges are eligible for this reimbursement.

The tax credit covers up to the first 65 credits a student takes, not counting any concurrent enrollment, AP/IB, military credit, or credit for prior learning.

To claim this reimbursement, a student must file state taxes to request the credit. Credits for academic year 2024-25 (Fall 2024 through Summer 2025) should be claimed on a student’s 2025 taxes (filed by April 2026), and students would receive the refund in early 2026.

This is a refundable credit, meaning that even if a student earned $0 that year and paid $0 in federal taxes, they will receive the full tuition and fee payments as a refund. Even if students are listed as dependents on their parents' taxes, students should file separately to request the tax credit.

Colorado institutions of higher education will notify students if they are eligible for the program in each semester/term.

Students are eligible for the tax credit for any semester/term in which they meet the criteria, which include:  

  • First enrolled in postsecondary within two years of graduating from high school  
  • Degree/credential-seeking
  • Completed a FAFSA or CASFA
  • Completed in at least 6 credits in semester
  • 2.5 semester GPA 

Additional Affordability Programs 

Colorado School of Mines 

Colorado Scholar Program 

mines logo
  • Provides tuition and mandatory fees for 4 years of undergraduate coursework. In combination with Pell Grant, Merit Scholarship, Colorado Grant, and Colorado Scholars Award.
  • Currently 60% of Mines Pell eligible Colorado students receive this scholarship.
  • Learn more on the Mines website. 

Eligibility Requirements for the Program

  • Must be a Colorado resident.
  • Must be a recipient of the President’s Merit Scholarship based on their admissions application.
  • Pell Grant eligible or eligible undocumented Colorado residents with an SAI below 6,656

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain

  • Complete the FAFSA/CASFA by the priority deadline and continue to be Pell Grant eligible with accompanying SAI.
  • Earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year (fall/spring).
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.500. 
Morgan Community College

Promise Award

morgan community college
  • Guarantee of $2,000 grant and/or scholarship ($1,000/semester)  
  • Learn more on the MCC website.

Eligibility Requirements for the Program

  • Complete the FAFSA/CASFA (students will receive the Promise Award if they are ineligible for Federal/State grant funding)
  • Must be a 2022, 2023, or 2024 high school graduate from a MCC service area high school, or another high school where MCC provides approved concurrent enrollment courses.
  • Must be a Colorado resident, or qualify as an ASSET student

Ongoing Requirements to Maintain

  • Enroll full-time (12 or credits per semester) for $2,000 guarantee.
  • Enroll part-time (6 to 11credits per semester) for $1,000 guarantee.
  • Recipients are limited to one MCC funded award (which ever is highest value), and value cannot exceed cost of tuition and fees. Private awards (not from the MCC Foundation) can be unlimited.
  • No minimum GPA 

 

FREE Financial Aid Applications

Even if you do not qualify for an institutional promise program or the Tax Credit, there are other financial resources available. The most important step you can take is to complete your FAFSA or CASFA! These applications are secure, safe and FREE for everyone. Completing these applications will help you gain access to grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial support. Completing the applications does not lock you into attending any institution or accepting any financial obligations.