These are all of the Higher Education bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1034: Career and Technical Education Capital Grant Program

Creates a career and technical education grant program in the department of labor and employment. This program will award grants to area technical colleges, school districts, and community colleges for the use of equipment, construction, or maintenance of state buildings. The program will prioritize applicants from rural parts of the state and consider each applicant’s demonstrated need.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

This is work that needs to be done anyway, so why not help local schools and their students in the process? This provides a true win-win situation, where students get invaluable real world experience and the state gets work it needs done.

Cons

Prioritizing rural areas discriminates against those in urban areas, who may be just as much in need as rural areas. In addition, any time you use less experienced labor you run the risk of sub-par work which may require more money to rectify. The whole thing sounds nice in theory but may cost the state more money in fixes.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1034

HB18-1048: Fort Lewis College Spending Hesperus Account

Eliminates the requirement that spending from the account which holds the proceeds of income from the property formerly known as Fort Lewis school requires an appropriation from the general assembly.

SIGNED

Pros

This eliminates an overly cumbersome process that no longer needs to exist. If the board of trustees for the account needs to spend money, they can do it without the state legislature looking over their shoulder.

Cons

The legislature was involved in this because these were state assets and the legislature rightly determined that they should not be spent without the consent of the state’s elected representatives. This bill wrongly changes that setup.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1048

HB18-1086: Community College Bachelor Science Degree Nursing

Allows a community college that is part of a state system of community and technical colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

SIGNED

Pros

Bachelor’s degrees in nursing are becoming more and more sought after in the field. Some employers and even states are making it a requirement. We also have a nursing shortage. The idea of having community colleges able to offer this degree is not new, other states already offer this ability to obtain the degree at far lower costs than those associated with a four-year state college like CU.

Cons

This represents mission creep for community colleges which are not setup to provide bachelor’s degrees and with good reason. This is part of how their costs stay down. In addition, it’s possible that a degree from a community college will disadvantage nurses relative to a degree from a regular four year institution.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1086

HB18-1102: Extend District Attorney Fellowships to 18 Months

Extends current one year rural district attorney fellowships for CU and DU students to 18 months.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This gives more time for these students to gain more experience and gives these rural areas more time to fulfill duties with them.

Cons

This costs the state more money. The state pays for up to six of these fellows, so six more months will require more money.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1102

HB18-1226: Higher Education Review Degree Program Costs and Outcomes

Requires state commission on higher education to review costs and outcomes for all undergraduate degrees given at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University and present a report identifying the highest cost degrees to both students and the institutions and the lowest performing with respect to post-graduation employment and earnings.

SIGNED

Pros

With state resources devoted to higher education getting squeezed, it’s more important than ever to make sure the schools are using their funds wisely and not for duplicative or inefficient degree programs that result in poor student employment and earnings.

Cons

You cannot measure every college degree in this manner. Different professions earn at different levels, but the world still needs teachers, artists, writers, journalists, historians, and public servants. Not to mention that many undergraduate degrees are just step one for some professions where a masters level degree is required.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1226

HB18-1300: Bachelor Nursing Completion Degree Local District College

Allows the state’s two local district colleges to offer bachelor of science degrees in nursing for students pursuing an associate degree in nursing.

SIGNED

Pros

This lines these schools up with the ability for community colleges, which they are somewhat similar to, to offer these degrees, passed by the legislature earlier this year. Bachelor’s degrees in nursing are becoming more and more sought after in the field. Some employers and even states are making it a requirement. We also have a nursing shortage. The idea of having community colleges able to offer this degree and not let these local district colleges do it doesn't make sense.

Cons

This represents mission creep for these schools which are not setup to provide bachelor’s degrees and with good reason. This is part of how their costs stay down. In addition, it’s possible that a degree from a local district college will disadvantage nurses relative to a degree from a regular four year institution or even a community college.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1300

HB18-1366: Allow Local College District to Sell or Lease Property

Gives local college districts the ability to sell or lease district property without needing to prove it will not be needed in the foreseeable future.

SIGNED

Pros

Schools should have the flexibility to do what they need to with their property, particularly when it comes to leasing, which can get done in a manner that works around the college district’s needs.

Cons

The most important thing is that these districts have the facilities they need to operate as schools, not as real estate mavens. Current law makes sure that no district makes the mistake of disposing or otherwise making unavailable property that it is going to need. If the district doesn’t need the property, then current law already allows them to sell or lease it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1366

HB18-1391: Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

Requires each institute of higher education to adopt, periodically review, and update a policy on sexual misconduct. The policy must include, at a minimum, definitions of actions consistent with federal law, confidential and non-confidential reporting options, an explanation of the role of the institution in response to a report and a violation, procedures for investigating claims that meet set criteria, prohibitions on retaliation or consideration of prior, irrelevant sexual conduct, protection from disciplinary action against a complainant or witness for policy violations that must be revealed to make the complaint, an appeal process for both the complainant and the accused. Training must be provided on awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct and the institution’s policies. All policies and trainings must be reported to the state’s department of higher education and will be posted on its website. The department will also host biannual summits on sexual misconduct and report findings to the legislature.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Sexual misconduct is of course a problem throughout our society, but it is a particularly large problem on college campuses. There is no mandated standard right now in the state, institutions are free to create their own, and we cannot leave a problem like this up to every single institution to decide for itself. The bill provides protections for the accused and witnesses to encourage more reporting, as far too many cases are not reported at all. It also requires training and awareness, so that everyone on campus knows what is and is not acceptable and how to make a report if something happens. It is also clear that this is not a criminal case, which is a matter for the police to decide. This is about institutional standards and penalties. Many of the things that apply in a criminal case should not apply here because no one is being charged with a crime. Also, many of the standards required in criminal cases are high barriers in sexual misconduct cases and led to the massive underreporting problem we have now.

Cons

The bill not only applies a one-size fits all approach to every institution in the state, whether public or private, but it also stacks the deck against the defendant, which runs contrary to our established legal principles of innocent before proven guilty. Preponderance of evidence is the standard, rather than reasonable doubt. Complainants can remain confidential, denying the victim the right to confront their accuser. There is no requirement for a neutral third party arbiter (neutral to both the institution, which has an incentive to look tough on the issue, and both parties).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1391

HB18-1414: Higher Education Student Emergency Assistance Grants

Creates an emergency grant program intended to assist eligible higher education students with financial emergencies that may require them to withdraw from school. To be eligible, a student must qualify for in-state tuition, be pursuing their first degree, meet state financial aid criteria, and have completed at least 60% of their requirements and on track to graduate within the next school year. Maximum amount a student can receive is $1,500, the total appropriation is $1,500,000.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Student financial aid programs lack the flexibility to deal with sudden emergencies like unexpected medical expenses or family emergencies that can potentially derail someone’s degree forever. With the increasing importance of a higher education degree, this small amount of money can go an extremely long way in providing a trained workforce in the state and helping people improve their economic lot in life with education.

Cons

Sometime life requires tough decisions and choices. Bailing out students doesn’t help them learn the skills they are going to need to navigate the world. School financial directors are also given quite a bit of discretion as to what constitutes unexpected, exigent circumstance so the program may go beyond medical bills and car repairs and family emergencies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1414

HB18-1415: Regulate Student Education Loan Servicers

Requires any entity that services student education loans to be licensed by the administrator of the state’s uniform consumer credit code.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

53% of Colorado’s students graduate with student debt, which averages $26,250. There are approximately 761,000 student loan borrowers in the state. And there are no federal standards for student loan servicing. Borrowers can encounter servicers that discourage borrower-friendly alternative payment plans, fail to respond to questions and payment processing errors, and fail to provide sufficient information to borrowers regarding payments, benefits, interest rates, and other charges. A report in March of 2017 found 124 complaints to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in just those few weeks of 2017. Student loans are frequently sold to other companies, so it’s not like this is an area where the free market and consumer choice can make a big difference. All the bill does is make sure these loan servicers are under the same rules as any other provider of consumer credit in the state.

Cons

Student loans are not like other forms of consumer credit, there’s a lot complicated stuff going on with them, so it is not appropriate to put them under the same big umbrella as something like a car loan or credit card.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1415

SB18-069: Enforcement Statewide Degree Transfer Agreements

For associate degree transfers (two year programs into finishing full degree at four year program), the bill requires any higher education institution that requires a student to complete additional credit hours of lower division general education courses to be responsible for the total cost of tuition for any required hours above 120.

SIGNED

Pros

While four year institutions are welcome to create their own standards for associate degree transfers, these should not be so burdensome as to saddle students with even higher costs (and likely debt).

Cons

This may give schools the incentive to design programs to fit just under this cap, even if it is not warranted academically, since the school will be on the hook for the costs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-069

SB18-087: In-State Tuition Foreign Nationals Settled in Colorado

Grants eligibility for in-state tuition status to refugees and special immigrants admitted to the United States under federal laws who have settled in Colorado.

*This bill has been assigned to the Senate’s “kill” committee, state affairs*

SIGNED

Pros

This only pertains to those who have legally entered this country through the refugee or similar special immigrant process. They have been torn away from their homes by conflict and war (sometimes as a result of action or inaction from the United States), are thoroughly vetted by the United States government, and deserve the in-state treatment for higher education this bill would provide.

Cons

Refugees are not citizens and thus are not in-state residents. While their circumstances are sad, there is no reason to give them preferential treatment over other non-US citizens living legally in the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-087

SB18-101: Colorado State University Global Campus Student Admission Criteria

The CSU global campus is currently prohibited from admitting first-time freshmen students who reside in the state and are under 23. This law removes the restriction.

SIGNED

Pros

Traditional classroom settings are not for every would-be college student and lifting this restriction allows those that wish to pursue online education to do so. These students are already to heading to for-profit online schools which vary wildly in effectiveness. CSU global campus has received excellent marks from higher learning reviewers since its inception and keeping it away from Colorado residents to artificially help community colleges is unfair to students.

Cons

This school was designed for working adults, that’s the whole point of the restriction, which was part of the compromise in 2014 that allowed the institution to let in anyone with no college credits. This change will damage the state’s community colleges, who are the traditional source for those who are not yet ready to attend a traditional four year school, and potentially shoulder-out the working adults the school is supposed to be serving in favor of more enticing four-year student prospects.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-101

SB18-133: Higher Education Certificate Performance Funding

Currently higher education institutions receive some state funding based on their performance, the number of degrees or certificates awarded. The amount of funding received depends on the type of degree and various other factors. This bill would put the minimum amount of performance funding for a certificate from a higher institution at 0.5 weight instead of the current 0.25 weight (same as associate’s degree, bachelor’s is 1, graduate is 1.25). The bill does not change the overall money spent on higher education, just redistributes it.

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The complicated formula behind this funding system is too punitive to community colleges issuing certificates. As we try to make non-four year college programs a viable path for some students, this bill will help us create that more balanced work force.

Cons

This bill takes money away from already underfunded state university system, over $1 million from CSU and nearly $2 million from CU at current funding levels. That might get passed directly into higher tuition costs. Don’t support community colleges at the expense of our four year programs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-133

SB18-177: Private School and Private Occupational School Bonds

Currently some private occupational schools and private degree-granting schools are required to provide a bond or other form of surety that is used to facilitate transfer or reimbursement if the school closes. The department of higher education has to take possession of all records from private degree-granting schools. This bill allows the department to make a claim on the bond for reimbursement of its administrative costs only after all of the students’ needs are taken care of.

SIGNED

Pros

If there is money left over, it makes sense to use it to reimburse the state for its expenses associated with the closure.

Cons

These bonds aren't meant to give the government money and should not be used for that purpose.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-177

SB18-206: Research Institutions Affordability for Residents

Changes the percentage requirements for state universities. From 67% to 55% of in-state students enrolled at each campus, excluding foreign students and adding an exclusion for online students. From 12% to 15% of foreign students enrolled at each campus. All institutions must continue to admit 100% of all fully qualified in-state students.

SIGNED

Pros

Our higher education institutions get much more money from out-of-state and foreign students. With the ever decreasing amount of money available from the state, it’s important for these institutions to be able admit more of these higher-fee students to continue being able to provide Colorado residents with the higher quality education they deserve. These institutions must still admit 100% of qualified in-state residents.

Cons

If we need more funding for our schools we need to fund them, not deprive Colorado residents of their lower cost in-state options, particularly those who are more borderline in terms of acceptance to schools in other states (and presumably also will have trouble with scholarships).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-206

SB18-260: Sunrise Review New Private Occupational Schools

Requires the private occupational school board to create a sunrise review process for applications for new educational credentials or services for which the board has not previously granted approval. Until the review process is complete, the new area will not be regulated by the board. The board will submit its report to the general assembly and the state legislature will then decide if the area needs to be regulated by the board or not.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Regulations should only be imposed when they are necessary to protect public interest, otherwise they are simply a series of sometimes costly hoops for everyone to jump through that actually do more harm than good. This bill simply asks the board to take a look and make sure this is going to be necessary before acting, and puts the power to act in the people’s elected representatives, not appointed bureaucrats.

Cons

This bill flows from the assumption that no real serious harm can be done while we examine these new areas and also that there is some small level of permissible fraud and/or highly substandard education. Because it is an obvious thing that fraudulent educational enterprises exist. Fraudulent enterprises in all walks of life, but we’ve decided as a society that fraud in education is so serious that it warrants preemptive action to prevent it, not after-the-fact crackdowns. In addition, we vest the ability to regulate industries outside of the state legislature for a very, very good reason: our representatives, with few exceptions, are not experts in the field. Nor do we necessarily want them to become experts in every field. They are supposed to be experts at taking in information and making big picture decisions.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-260

SB18-262: Higher Education Targeted Master Plan Funding

Provides additional funding to higher education institutions in the state in order to reach the goals of the Colorado commission on higher education’s master plan. Institutions that take the funding must provide a plan of how they will use the funds to reach its goals: 66% statewide higher education attainment by 2025 (currently 55%), produce additional 73,500 certificates and degrees by 2025 (currently at 48,850), close racial attendance gaps so 66% is across the board attainment (29% currently for Hispanic and Native American, 33% for African American), decrease time to degree and retention (unstated final goal), decrease student debt.

SIGNED

Pros

The state has lagged badly when it comes to funding higher education and with the state’s population exploding (bringing more high school graduates with it), the need for more funding is becoming more and more acute. The reality is that in today’s economy, some sort of post high school education is becoming a near requirement for a steady job with steady income. This bill helps put on a path to achieve what we need to keep the state competitive.

Cons

Unrealistic goals should not be buttressed by throwing more money at them. This bill spends $16.5 million in year one and at least $18 million subsequently, money that we just don’t have because we have so many needs in K-12 education (large negative factor still), transportation (billions in road projects unfunded) and retirement plan insolvency (over $30 billion shortfall).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-262