Monday, February 7, 2011

Bill requires Colorado tuition subsidies be equal between public and private universities

A measure introduced last week in the General Assembly would require the state to treat private colleges and universities in Colorado the same as public ones when subsidizing students’ tuition through the Colorado Opportunity Fund.

House Bill 1168, by Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, and Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, would raise tuition stipends given to students at private universities to the same level as the stipends granted students at state schools like Colorado State University and the University of Colorado. Currently, students attending qualifying private higher-ed institutions, such as the University of Denver or Regis University, receive only 50 percent of the amount granted to students at public colleges and universities.

The Colorado Opportunity Fund, put in place in 2004, was devised as a way to redirect some of the state’s higher-ed funding directly to students in the form of stipends that they apply to their tuition at eligible colleges of their choice. Students who are eligible for in-state tuition are given a stipend that is distributed evenly across the board per credit hour and deducted from their tuition bill.

Spence says it’s a matter of treating all Colorado college students the same.

“It’s an issue of fairness,” said Spence. “College students at private schools add as much value as students at state schools.”

Rep. Beth McCann, D- Denver, said making alterations to the COF may be premature if her measure, House Bill 1184, which forms a study committee to explore funding possibilities for higher ed, gets the go-ahead. The committee would be comprised of legislators, members from public and private education communities; and representatives from the business community.

“We need to take a comprehensive look at how higher education is funded,” said McCann. “We’re not providing adequate funding as it is for our public colleges and universities. Before we make any changes … we need to step back and see where we’re at.”

Both measures will first be heard in the House Education Committee.

Via - Colorado News Agency

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