Colorado State Launches Two New Scholarships for Students from Low- to Middle-Income Working Families

Beginning in fall 2007, Colorado State University will offer two innovative new scholarship programs for students from low- and middle-income working families, part of an overall campaign focused on improving student access and success at one of the state’s leading research universities.

"These two new scholarships are part of Colorado State University’s Access with Success campaign, which aims to provide access to higher education for Colorado students from working families, many of whom could not otherwise afford a world-class education at a top-tier research university," Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley announced today.

The new Colorado’s Success Scholarships will support all qualified Colorado State students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants. Those with family incomes up to twice the Pell-eligible level who qualify for need-based aid will be eligible for the new Colorado’s Choice Scholarships. Currently more than 3,000 students at Colorado State meet these criteria.

Penley has been a vocal advocate nationally and in Colorado for the need to provide greater access to qualified students who otherwise could not afford tuition at top public universities. He has noted that nationwide demographic and educational trends point to a dramatic need to expand the pool of talented students who enroll in college and graduate in order for the United States to retain a competitive knowledge workforce. Increased access also is a key component of Gov. Bill Ritter’s "Colorado Promise."

"Colorado is a low-tuition state if you’re from an upper-income family, but it’s a high-tuition state if you’re from a working-class family in the low- to middle-income range," Penley said.

Colorado State’s investment in these scholarships will total about $8.3 million.

In addition to the new scholarships, the university’s Access with Success Campaign includes a comprehensive new retention plan, which focuses on improving the quality of the undergraduate experience at Colorado State for all students so that they will remain in school and graduate. Implementation of the plan, which was approved by the Board of Governors of the CSU System last fall, is already underway. It includes significant steps to enhance student advising, redesign course content and expand the number of living-learning communities on campus.

"To provide access, without an equal commitment to student success, is a fraud," Penley said. "The public should expect success for its investment in higher education. That’s why our Access with Success retention plan focuses on creating a culture of high expectations and exceptional educational experiences across the university. We want our students to graduate and become leaders for the state of Colorado."

Penley and Colorado State officials anticipate that the university’s six-year graduation rate will reach 70 percent when the new Access with Success retention plan is fully implemented.

"Qualified low- and middle-income students ought to have the same opportunities as students from wealthy families to enroll and graduate from elite research universities like Colorado State University," Penley said. "Students from our top research universities are the ones who often become society’s leading professionals-managers, doctors, lawyers, professors. They are the ones who will explore cures for cancer and solutions to our world’s environmental challenges, who will educate future generations of children and advance the frontiers of knowledge. That is why it is so essential that students from working families who have the qualifications also have the opportunity to attend our best public universities."

Higher education can transform the state by educating a skilled workforce and increasing the likelihood of business retention and relocation to Colorado, Penley said. To meet that challenge, Colorado State has announced plans to stretch itself by adding 450 new faculty, increasing enrollment by 6,000 students and doubling research spending to $500 million in the next five years. The goal is to remain a competitive contributor to the Colorado economy and the world, Penley said, and the Access with Success Campaign is an important part of reaching that aim.

"Our goal is to provide an enhanced student experience with upgraded facilities, more top faculty, and an overall commitment to improving the undergraduate experience," he said. "We are increasing the competitiveness of a Colorado State degree by improving enrollment and graduation rates for low- and middle-income working-class students who represent the state’s future knowledge workforce."