Colorado Department of Higher Education
To encourage more Coloradans to continue their education, Gov. Jared Polis announced recently that all 32 public colleges and universities in Colorado and several private institutions will allow students to apply for free on Tuesday, Oct. 13, as part of the third annual Colorado Free Application Day.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) has posted admissions application and fee waiver information for each college and university that allows students to apply, on Oct. 13 only, for free. The day caps off Colorado Applies Month, a five-week, statewide campaign that encourages high school juniors and seniors — and adults — to select an education or training option that’s best for them and apply to that program.
“Earning a certificate or degree gives Coloradans the best shot at good jobs during the economic challenges caused by the pandemic,” said Polis. “By eliminating the cost barrier, more Coloradans will have the opportunity to pursue their passions. We need everyone’s talent and bold ideas to make Colorado the best we can be.”
The statewide push is designed to increase Colorado’s stagnant 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 just more than 56 percent of its high school seniors to a college, university or certificate program, and only 50 percent of students submit an FAFSA application — a major source of financial aid and a key indicator of student success.
“Colorado Free Application Day allows students to activate their potential, pick their path and reach higher than they ever thought they could,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “With so many options available, whether you go to college or technical school, university or become an apprentice, there’s a program in Colorado that will unlock your future.”
During last year’s campaign, students turned in nearly 44,500 applications, half of which came from students of color and a third from first-generation students. Statewide, 2019 application submissions were up 100 percent compared to 2018.
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 percent of jobs in Colorado require some education beyond high school, yet only 57.6 percent 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 percent 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.
For more information, visit the Colorado Free Application Day and Colorado Applies Month Web pages.