These are all of the higher education bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

HB19-1016 Basic Skills Placement Tests for High School [Geitner]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Prohibits an institution of higher learning from using basic skills placement or assessment tests in English and math to incoming students that are not available for use by school districts and high schools (including early colleges).

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

These are about the tests higher education institutions must use for incoming students (think SAT or ACT). Obviously we need to make sure that any test a higher education institution is using is available for our high school and early college students.

Arguments Against:

Higher education institutions are already required to use tests approved by a state commission, it isn't necessary to tell the commission what to do.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1016

HB19-1093 Higher Education Fixed-Rate Tuition Contracts (Todd) [Wilson]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Short Description:

Currently state-supported institutions of higher education may offer students a fixed-rate tuition contract. This bill turns that into a requirement for four-year institutions for bachelor degree programs. Community colleges still have a choice.

Long Description:

Currently state-supported institutions of higher education may offer students a fixed-rate tuition contract. This bill turns that into a requirement for four-year institutions for bachelor degree programs. Community colleges still have a choice. Fixed-rate contract must be valid until the earlier of the student’s completion of the program, the completion of 140 credit hours, or 5 years. All students admitted to the same class and enrolled in the same degree program must receive the same fixed rate. Students who transfer to another state-supported school are eligible to enter into a contract with the new school at a rate equal to what they would have received had they entered the school in the same year they entered their first school.


Arguments For:

College tuition of course continues to skyrocket and it does so somewhat unpredictably. While the University of Colorado has offered a fixed rate tuition, none of the other major state-supported Colorado schools have followed suit, so it is time to force their hand. Knowing exactly what the cost of a degree is provides a better planning platform for prospective students and their parents to understand exactly what they will need.

Arguments Against:

Forcing an institution that does not want to do this into providing fixed rate contracts may make things more difficult for the school to operate. Not every four-year program in the state is CU and becoming overly committed to certain tuition levels may prove problematic.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1093

HB19-1152 State Student Advisory Council Member Eligibility (Gonzales) [Herod, Galindo]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Removes the requirement that student members of the state student advisory council (for community colleges and occupational education) must be classified as an in-state student.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The point of the council is bring students into the process of regulating their own schools and to make their voices a part of the discussion. It is not to only listen to in-state students. The council should be open to anyone who wants to make a difference in their school.

Arguments Against:

These schools must function primarily as a place for Colorado residents to get an affordable education. If we don’t have in-state students on the council, we are missing the most important voices we need to hear from: the in-state students who are the primary mission of the school.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1152

HB19-1153 Colorado Mountain College and Direct Grants Annexation (Donovan, Rankin) [McCluskie, Wilson]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Allows Colorado Mountain College a limited number of bachelor degree programs, as determined by its board, instead of its current limit of 5. Requires the state commission on higher education to annually consider recommending increases to the direct grant amount for any local college district for at least five years after annexing any other districts into its program to account for the higher enrollment.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Colorado Mountain College is one of the premier affordable institutions of higher education in the country, grabbing 3rd place in a nationwide listing from the US Department of Education for most affordable bachelor’s degree. The problem is, it can only offer five of them right now, in addition to its wide array of associates degrees and certificates. It is time to expand the school’s horizons. It already has more than 20,000 students spread over six mountain counties at eight community campuses and three full-service residential campuses. For the requirement to consider raising grant money, it’s simple math. If a local college district expands by annexing other districts it is going to have more students and need more money.

Arguments Against:

It is possible that the success of Colorado Mountain College is due to the its limited bachelor’s focus. If allowed to sprawl into this arena it might no longer thrive in its current niche as an affordable program as it has to hire more specialized faculty and increase its facilities. We don’t want it to turn into another CU or CSU.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1153

HB19-1178 Name Simplification of Western State Colorado University (Donovan) [McLachlan]

PASSED

Goal: To simplify the name of Western State Colorado University

Short Description:

Changes the name of Western State Colorado University to Western Colorado University.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The current name is a mouthful, and the “state” designation in unnecessary.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1178

HB19-1187 Increase Student Aid Application Completion Rates (Bridges) [Coleman]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To expand an existing grant program to help college eligible kids complete federal Pell grant applications and state student aid applications.

Short Description:

Requires the state to appropriate $250,000 for each of the next three years into the school counselor corps grant program with the expressed intent of supporting programs that increase awareness of federal and state student aid programs.

Additional Information:

Grants are to be distributed for the following:

  • Developing and distributing information to students, families and school leaders on federal and student aid applications and their benefits.
  • Developing and distributing information to students and families on the steps required to complete these applications.
  • Training school counselors on best practices to support students and families in navigating applications with emphasis on supporting communities with historically low completion rates.
  • Organizing and hosting opportunities for students and families to meet with non-governmental agencies that assist in completing these applications.


Arguments For:

In the 2015-16 academic year Colorado students did not claim approximately $50 million available through federal Pell grants. This hurts low-income students the most. Pell grants usually do not have to be paid back and are awarded based on financial need. Understanding that this option is available is critical in helping low-income students and families understand that higher education can be a real option for them. The current program does not have this outreach and training in it, so the bill adds to the appropriate existing program and funds the addition.

Arguments Against:

We might want to worry about how someone who isn’t self-reliant enough to complete an application for federal student will do on their own in college. Part of becoming an adult is learning how to fend for yourself without someone holding your hand at every big step in your life.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1187

HB19-1196 Financial Aid for Students with In-State Tuition (Moreno) [Gonzales-Gutierrez]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To make undocumented students already eligible to attend Colorado institutes of higher education at in-state tuition rates eligible for state financial assistance programs.

Description:

Makes undocumented students who are already eligible to attend Colorado institutes of higher education and are eligible for the college opportunity fund program, eligible for state financial assistance programs.

Additional Information:

To be eligible for in-state tuition rates, an undocumented student must have attended a Colorado high school for at least three years, be admitted to a qualifying institute of higher education within 12 months of graduation, and submitted an affidavit that they have applied for lawful presence in the United States or will as soon as they are eligible. They become eligible for the college opportunity fund once their unique student ID number is verified.


Arguments For:

The concept behind this program is to treat these kids like the in-state students they are. They’ve attended and graduated from high school here and will get lawful presence as soon as possible. So it follows that they should eligible for state financial aid programs. We have rightly made it a policy in Colorado not to take the actions of adults out on these kids. This is another step to making that a reality.

Arguments Against:

This takes away from lawful state residents who have not violated United States’ immigration laws. Financial aid is a zero-sum game: any amount that goes to an undocumented kid is not going to a kid (and their family) who played by the rules.

This is a great chance to review and dump this entire program. There is a difference between not punishing kids and rewarding them and this program rewards kids (and their families) who have broken United States’ immigration laws.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1196

HB19-1206 Higher Education Supplemental Academic Instruction (Bridges, Lundeen) [Coleman, Larson]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To make it easier for incoming students at community colleges to clear gateway English and math courses upon enrollment so the students are able to graduate on-time (and at all).

Description:

Directs the state commission on higher education to develop policies around developmental education for students who are accepted to Colorado institutions of higher learning who are not ready for entry level English or math classes and need developmental education to come up to academic standards required for the school. These policies must prohibit placing a student in developmental courses based on the results of one test and must be designed to maximize the likelihood that the student will complete the courses within one year. Students placed in English as a second language courses must be likely to complete within three years. By 2022 the courses must include access to supplemental instruction and the courses cannot extend more than 10% of the student’s time to graduate, so in other words not be a stand-alone prerequisite course.

Additional Information:

The bill also authorizes schools to pilot new approaches to remediate students who may not benefit from supplemental instruction and to seek waivers from the commission to expand or duplicate successful pilots. The ability for all institutions to offer these programs is a change in the bill, previously it was restricted to a few.


Arguments For:

35% of all Colorado high school graduates and more than 50% of those who attend community college are assessed as not ready for higher education gateway English and math courses. Low-income and minority students are disproportionately represented in these statistics. And students who have to take these developmental courses have to pay for a class that does not count toward their degree requirements and extends their time to graduate. The result is students who give up entirely, students who are burdened with higher costs, and students who complete the developmental classes but then fail to enroll and complete their gateway classes. Institutions who have delivered supplemental support while students are in gateway classes, rather than stand-alone prerequisite developmental courses, do a better job of keeping students in school and get higher percentages of completion of the gateway courses. It just plain works better. So we need to have all of our institutions of higher education doing this, in order to achieve our high (and appropriate) goals for post-secondary education attainment in Colorado youth.

Arguments Against:

While it is true that the data points in this direction, it may be doing so because it was the school’s choice to do developmental education in this manner. Forcing it on schools may lead to different results from schools that are not as “all-in” on the concept. Because the plan will fail without sufficient supports. You are asking these kids who are not ready for these higher education classes to take them anyway, the promise of extra support along the way to get them up-to-speed. We need to make sure we aren’t setting them up for failure. In addition, the bill expands this program far beyond its current small home into all institutions of higher education which may cause problems in our bigger universities.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1206

HB19-1252 College Credit for Work Experience [Geitner, McLachlan]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Goal: To make relevant industry and business work and accreditation count for college credit toward graduation.

Description:

Tasks the council created inside commission of higher education in 2016 to implement a plan to award postsecondary academic credit for work-related experience. This experience can be a business or industry credential, a technical certificate, an internship, a residency, a pre-apprenticeship program, or an apprenticeship program that is part of a career pathway or statewide articulation agreement. The council has to determine how these experiences should transfer to credits and define those career pathways. Council must prioritize fastest-growing industries identified in recent talent pipeline report. Plan must be done in 2021, to take effect in 2023.

Additional Information:

Council must consult with representatives of institutions of higher education, representatives of the state workforce development council, and representatives of those fastest growing industries.


Arguments For:

Students who complete courses, programs, or work-related experiences that can be applied to the completion of an associate or applied science degree must have the ability to have these experiences count toward completion of a degree. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit here, during the last two school years high school students have completed 9,000 industry credentials related to high-demand jobs and industries in the state. All of that work should count. And of course those who did not go to an institute of higher education right out of high school but have earned the equivalent of completion of a course through real world experience deserve credit for that work too.

Arguments Against:

This is too difficult a web to unweave. For example, how much credit is an internship worth and does it just matter that you had an internship or does it matter what you actually did in the internship? Obviously it probably should matter what you did, but then how do you suss that out? The same goes for any other work-related experience that doesn’t have a standardized result.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1266

HB19-1280 Child College Savings Accounts (Fenberg) [Herod, Becker]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To create a small college savings account for every child born in Colorado.

Description:

Creates the college kickstarter account program for a collegeinvest college savings account for each child born in Colorado starting in 2020. The collegeinvest authority is to create a separate $100 college savings account for each child (adjusted annually for inflation). Parents have five years from birth or adoption to claim the account and any associated interest it has earned in the interim. The authority is to create and execute a robust marketing plan to reach-out to parents to make them aware of the program, in particular low and middle income families. Once contact is made with a family, they must be told how to claim the account, invest into it themselves, chose from available fund options, and contact the authority with any questions. $6 million is appropriated for 2019-20, $10 million for 2020-21, then $8 million until the program is set to expire in 2039-40, when $4 million is appropriated Fund is to be given enough money to cover its obligations each year of its existence. If the authority can collect enough private gifts and donations, it is also to provide a free financial literacy class as part of the program.

Additional Information:

An advisory board is to help oversee the program. It must include at minimum the state treasurer and two department employees (one a collegeinvest employee and one who isn’t). Authority must do on-going data collection on its marketing efforts, the number of births in the state and number of accounts claimed, and how many families made additional contributions to the account. Authority is to invest the money in its stable value plus plan or similar successor.


Arguments For:

Children who have college savings do better across a host of metrics; among children aged 12-18 those with an account are twice as likely to go to college as those without. And even a small account makes a difference: children with $500 or less in savings in low or moderate income families were three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than children with no savings. Providing a small amount of seed money won’t break the bank for the state (with births in the state in the 60k range right now, that $6 million will mostly cover everyone at the start) and may open doors for some families who are not even considering college as an option. The exposure to financial literacy, even if there isn’t enough funds raised to have the free class, will also help low and moderate income families with their own finances. It’s an easy win-win at a relatively low cost.

Arguments Against:

It is true that this is not a large amount of money by our state budget standards, but it is also true that we have a zero-sum budget: $8 million spent here is $8 million we are not spending on K-12 education (where we owe hundreds of millions), our roads (where we face billions of dollars in shortages), our health care, or even our institutes of higher education which remain tightly squeezed, forcing higher tuition prices. The accounts this fund sets up are not properly protected in the bill from parents stealing them from their children or stealing the money out of them while paying applicable taxes and fees. And even if that doesn’t happen, $100, even $100 invested over 18 years, won’t amount to much of a difference in someone’s ability to pay for college (a 4% rate of return gets you a little over $200 over 18 years), without further investments from the family. We may end up essentially wasting this money.

This is not means-tested, which means a family making millions of dollars a year gets one of these accounts just like the poorest families in the state. Wealthy families don’t need this help and the state doesn’t need to waste our money on them.

The bill is too light on specifics. The type of savings account is not specified, is this a 529 account? What happens when someone moves out of state during the five year window, are they still eligible to claim the account? And funding for the program should be based on funds required to cover all births, with an added cushion, not a fixed amount each year, since the money in the program will grow due to interest and some parents not claiming their accounts.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1280

HB19-1294 Transfer Apprenticeship Credit to College Credit [Benavidez, Jaquez Lewis]

PASSED

Goal: To convene a working group to determine the best way to transfer earned construction industry apprenticeship credit to college credit.

Description:

Creates a working group created by chief administrative officer of state community college system to determine the best way to facilitate the transfer of earned construction industry apprenticeship credit to college credit. Group is to consist of representatives from community colleges, area technical schools, local district colleges, relevant 4-year institutions, applicable union and non-union organizations and other interested parties. Report due to general assembly by end of year.

Additional Information:

Group is to specifically consider: best manner to align these apprenticeship programs with existing community college courses, how these programs could lead to significant progress to a 2 year or 4 year degree, best way to clarify difference between these programs and work study programs, whether it is feasible for community colleges to offer these programs, and any other considerations deemed necessary.


Arguments For:

These apprenticeship programs are required in many construction trades but also fairly closely align with some community college and even bachelor level programs. It makes sense to figure out a way to give college credit for those who complete these programs as it might be the spur toward someone getting a 2 year or 4 year degree, which will improve their career prospects and lifetime earnings potential.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1294

SB19-002 Regulate Student Education Loan Servicers (Winter, Fenberg)

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Short Description:

Requires any entity that services student education loans to be licensed by the administrator of the state’s uniform consumer credit code under a new license created for the category. Banks and credit unions are excluded from this category. Annual fees of $1,000 and an investigation fee to be determined by the administrator. Also creates an ombudsman to help student loan borrowers. Bill lists set of prohibited acts by loan servicers.

Long Description:

Requires any entity that services student education loans to be licensed by the administrator of the state’s uniform consumer credit code under a new license created for the category. Banks and credit unions are excluded from this category. The license requires a certified financial statement and criminal history of applicant, as well as all partners and board members and officers (if applicable). Annual fees of $1,000 and an investigation fee to be determined by the administrator. Also creates an ombudsman to help student loan borrowers. The ombudsman is tasked with receiving and reviewing complaints from borrowers, compiling and analyzing data, providing assistance and information to borrowers, analyzing all federal and state laws, educating potential borrowers, and reviewing student education loan history for any borrower who requests it. Bill lists set of prohibited acts by loan servicers. These include: defrauding or misleading borrowers, engaging in any unfair activities around withholding or misrepresenting the terms of the loan, misapplying payments, providing inaccurate information to a credit reporting agency, refusing to speak to an authorized representative of the borrower, making false statements to a government agency, and fail to properly evaluate borrower for income-based or other student loan repayment or forgiveness programs before putting the borrower in default or forbearance.

Arguments For:

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. It is a posterchild for an industry that needs licensure. Letting this industry run unlicensed is not working and this bill resets the balance in favor of the borrowers, who make up a significant chunk of the state’s population. Similar bills have already become law in other states.

Arguments Against:

This is an unreasonably intrusive move to insert government into an industry that does not need it. The fact that many state residents have student debt does not automatically mean that we need to greatly increase the burden of operating a student loan servicing company in Colorado and hundreds of complaints is a small number of the total number of borrowers. It may have unknown consequences, as this is a recent trend and we do not yet know what the impacts have been in states that have passed similar laws.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-002

SB19-007 Prevent Sexual Misconduct at Higher Ed Campuses (Pettersen, Winter) [McLachlan, Buckner]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Short Description:

Requires each institute of higher education to adopt, periodically review, and update a policy on sexual misconduct with minimum reporting, investigating, adjudication, and protection requirements. Training must be provided on awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct and the institution’s policies. The department will also host biannual summits on sexual misconduct and report findings to the legislature. Creates an advisory committee to monitor federal changes to Title IX rules dealing with how to handle sexual misconduct allegations at schools. Committee is to examine any final rule changes and make recommendations to schools and the legislature on how to comply.

Long Description:

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. The evidence standard to be used is the preponderance of evidence, if the defendant is a student. If any of these policies conflict with federal law and would put funding at risk, the institution is to follow federal law. 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.

Arguments For:

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. 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. This is about institutional standards and penalties. Many of the things that apply in a criminal case, including the evidence standards, should not apply here because no one is being charged with a crime.

Arguments Against:

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 SB19-007

SB19-057 Employee Information Student Loan Repayment Programs (Story, Fenberg) [McCluskie]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Requires the department of personnel to annually distribute information materials on federal student loan forgiveness programs to state employees, the department of education (for distribution to schools), the department of higher education (for distribution to higher ed employees), the secretary of state (for distribution to nonprofit public service organizations), and the division of local government (for distribution to local governments).

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Many Coloradans have federal student loan debt but may qualify for loan repayment programs and/or loan forgiveness programs for working in the public sector, as a teacher, or for a nonprofit public service organization. The state can help make sure these individuals know about all of their options, which is what this bill does. Will help lower debt which will help our citizens obtain more stable economic situations.

Arguments Against:

It is not the state’s job to do the work for its citizens. The state should not have to expend resources or the time of its employees. These are public programs, there is no mystery or person you have to know. People just need to be willing to put in a little bit of work to do the research.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-057

SB19-089 Exempt Colorado Department of Higher Education Regulation Professional Organization Member Education (Woodward)

*Sent to State Affairs kill committee*

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Currently education offered by a bona fide trade, business, professional, or fraternal organization that primary benefits the organization’s membership or mission is exempt from regulation by the private occupational school division of the state. This bill clarifies that this exemption includes educational services offered either by the organization or by an instructor approved by the organization.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Under current law the organization itself has to offer this instruction in order to qualify for the exemption. This hinders organizations that approve an instructor but not offer the education itself. The requirement that the education primarily benefit either the organization’s membership or mission still must also be met.

Arguments Against:

The exemption is designed for these organizations specifically, not to allow them to farm out education to others who can then duck out the regulation. The further you extend out an exemption away from the exempt organization the higher the likelihood of trouble because the exempt organization itself exerts less control over a contractor.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-089

SB19-095 Five-Year Review of Higher Education Funding Formula (Todd, Holbert) [Hansen, McKean]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Requires the state’s commission on higher education to conduct a review of the funding formula for institutions of higher education every 5 years and submit a report with recommended changes to the state legislature.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

College tuition is an area of acute concern not just in Colorado but across the country. Our institutions of higher education funding formulas are an important component of ensuring both the affordability and sustainability of the entire system. So it makes sense for us to take a deep look every five years to see if there are any changes that need to be made. Five years is long enough that we aren’t putting an undue burden on these institutions but short enough that we will catch big issues before they fester for too long. It’s also critical that any changes have buy-in from the state institutions or they just aren’t going to work. We cannot dictate through legislation that schools buck national trends and we can’t wave a magic wand to find more money in the state budget. A commission can find the less obvious elements and the more complex solutions.

Arguments Against:

There is no need for a commission to tell us what we all already know. The money from the state for higher education has been collapsing under the weight of the state’s obligations to K-12 education and healthcare. And we are in the midst of a nation-wide arms race among colleges to turn them into luxury resorts complete with climbing walls, relaxation pods, and other over-the-top (and unnecessary amenities). With less money and more things to spend it on, of course tuition continues to rise. So skip the commission and attack the known problems head-on.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-095

SB19-097 Area Technical College Grant Program (Story, Coram) [McCluskie, Soper]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Creates a grant program to provide money to area technical colleges for capital construction and equipment purchases. No money is appropriated for the fund, the commission on higher education is directed to review each grant request and decide if the committee wants to request money to fulfill it in the next state fiscal year.

Long Description:

Creates a grant program to provide money to area technical colleges for capital construction and equipment purchases. No money is appropriated for the fund, the commission on higher education is directed to review each grant request and decide if the committee wants to request money to fulfill it in the next state fiscal year. Grant requests must include precisely how the money will be spent, any matching funds, and how the grant will benefit students at the school. The commission must report grant expenditures and impact.


Arguments For:

Career and technical education is required for many of the fastest growing occupations in the country, including nursing, welding, massage therapy, dental and medical assisting, and barbering and cosmetology. But industry demand continues to outpace the rates of certificate completion, particularly in healthcare and construction. This is a path to a high-wage and in-demand job that does not require an expensive four-year college degree. We need to do more to encourage it.

Arguments Against:

This is an unfunded mandate. With no money designated for this fund, it will have to fight every other priority in higher education in the state from a dwindling pool of resources. If this is truly this important, give it a designated funding stream.

If these fields are truly so in-demand and profitable, then the industries that rely on them will step up and fund the education requirements needed, much in the same way that profitable industries fund traditional four-year education programs. There is no need for the state to interfere.

SB19-170 Inquiry into College Applicant Criminal History (Rodriguez, Tate) [Herod]

AMENDED: Moderate (requires repassage in Senate)

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE

Goal: To prevent institutions of higher learning, with a few exceptions, from using criminal history as admissions criteria.

Description:

Bans state institutions of higher learning from asking about criminal or disciplinary history at previous schools prior to admission. Exempts pending criminal charges and convictions for stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence; as well as convictions in past five years for assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and murder. Institutions that use common forms which ask about this history are forbidden from using it as admissions criteria. The only exception is an application designed by a national application service and tailored for a specific degree program. In this case, the applicant has the right to appeal a decision based on criminal history.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Past surveys have indicated that 60-80% of private institutions and 55% of public institutions require undergraduate applicants to answer questions about their criminal history. And it’s common for these institutions to ask about misdemeanors and juvenile justice adjudications. This is an absolutely crippling burden for Coloradans of all ages. About 1 in 3 of all Americans have been arrested at least once by age 23. That number rises to 44% of Hispanic men and a whopping 49% of black men. Research has shown that by ages of 28-33 about 20% of men with at least a high school diploma but no bachelor’s degree have some sort of criminal record. There is no evidence, from looking at schools that do not care about criminal background versus those that do, that there is any correlation between campus safety and previous criminal history of any kind. Given how critical post-secondary education is in modern America, the current practice is an unnecessary burden born disproportionately by people of color. The exemptions for stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence are completely appropriate, but further restrictions risk telling those who have paid their time and are ready to reintegrate back into society that they have no chance. We will never trust them and they might as well go back to crime.

Arguments Against:

This goes way too far in the other direction. There are no exemptions for 1st degree felonies, no exemptions for dealing drugs (an activity that you would think might continue on a college campus). The ability for schools to ask about these background doesn’t mean they won’t accept someone with a criminal history, it just means they have the opportunity to evaluate each case individually and decide if each individual deserves the opportunity to join the school or if there is too much worry about past criminal behavior to warrant risking the safety of the rest of the student population. The “ban the box” movement that this is based on, that is looking like it will pass and become law in Colorado soon, is a simple ban on criminal background as part of the initial application. Businesses are allowed to check for criminal history if they want to later. This bill bans the practice of checking entirely until after someone is already admitted.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-170

SB19-174 Dependent Tuition Assistance Program Eligibility (Garcia, Hill) [Buentello, Neville]

PASSED

Goal: To clarify existing law so that those eligible for the dependent tuition assistance program can still get some of their state benefits even if they are also getting federal benefits.

Description:

Allows dependent state tuition assistance program participants to get their state benefits prior to receiving a federal benefit and if they do get federal benefits, to reduce their state tuition assistance by the amount of the federal benefit rather than eliminating it altogether (as happens under current law).

Additional Information:

This program is open to dependents of a prisoner of war or military personnel missing in action, a dependent of a person who died or was permanently disabled while on duty as a Colorado National Guardsman, and a dependent of any person who has been permanently disabled or killed while acting as a police officer, sheriff, or other law enforcement officer or firefighter.


Arguments For:

It does not make sense to punish someone for getting federal tuition assistance under a similar federal act. Currently people must make the complicated choice of deciding if they will get larger state or federal benefits. This bill would simply say you will get the full state benefit regardless. Some of it may come from the federal government instead of the state government, but the amount won’t change.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-174

SB19-194 National Guard Tuition Assistance Colorado State University Global (Garcia, Zenzinger) [Froelich, Van Winkle]

PASSED

Goal: To add Colorado State University Global campus to list of higher education institutions where members of the National Guard are eligible for tuition assistance.

Description:

Adds Colorado State University Global campus to list of higher education institutions where members of the National Guard are eligible for tuition assistance.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

With the change in CSU global away from education for adults by allowing first-time freshman students who live in the state and are under 23 to attend (happened last year), it no longer makes sense to exclude the school from the list of tuition assistance-eligible schools.

Arguments Against:

CSU global is an online school, and would be the only solely online school on this list. It’s too much apples and oranges to put it together with our other institutes of higher education in the state in this manner.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-194