These are all of the higher education bills proposed in the 2020 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 or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, 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.

HB20-1002 College Credit For Work Experience (Zenzinger (D), Story (D)) [McLachlan (D), Baisley (R)]

From the Making Higher Education Attainable Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: $156,828
Fiscal Impact: Minimal each year

Goal: 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, or self-employment, an internship, a residency, or a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program that may lead to a business or industry credential, a technical certificate, or a license. 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 2022, to take effect in 2023. Institutions are also allowed to award credit on their own for relevant work-place experience if it aligns with state guidelines.

Also requires institutions of higher education to develop a process for students to receive credit for any course in the undergraduate curriculum through successful completion of a portfolio assessment, indivudal assessment, examination, or any combination of these to prove knowledge of the course. Must provide credit free of tuition charge but may charge a fee that reflects actual costs to take the assessment.

Additional Information:

Council must consult with representatives of institutions of higher education, representatives of students, representatives of the state workforce development council, and representatives of those fastest growing industries. Credits must be transferable among institutions, unless the council, in collaboration with the legislature, deems this impossible. Council must report to legislature in 2024 and each subsequent year on how the program is doing, including number of students receiving credits and credit transfers, demographics of these students, implementation challenges, and any recommended changes. Institutions must report to the state the number of students awarded credit, age and demographics of those students, and any fees charged.


Auto-Repeal: July 2029

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 HB20-1002

HB20-1067 Managment Of Property Held By Certain Junior College Districts (Story (D), Fields (D)) [Roberts (D), Will (R)]

From the Capital Development Committee

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District and the Rangely Junior College District to hold and sell real estate.

Description:

Prior laws that gave the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District and the Rangely Junior College District the ability to own and sell real estate were inadvertently repealed in 2009. This bill restores these abilities, while taking into account the transfer of the Colorado Northwest Community College campuses in Rangley and Craig to the state board that occurred in 2009. Sales must be for fair market value and proceeds must be used to benefit the Colorado Northwest Community College.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This just fixes a past error, of course these districts should be able to sell property.

Arguments Against:

It may have been an error, but really it was on the right track. The state board should be in control of these properties since the campuses are its responsibility.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1067

HB20-1108 Fort Lewis College Board Of Trustees (Coram (R)) [McLachlan (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Increase size of Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees and add Native American representation to the board.

Description:

Adds two voting members to the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees and increases the number that can be from any political party from 4 to 5 and requires that at least one member be a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe. Changes language that stipulated two members be from local counties to at least two and adds the Ute reservations as fulfilling requirement for local members.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Fort Lewis follows a 1911 mandate to provide tuition-free education for qualified Native Americans and awards 16% of the baccalaureate degrees earned by Native Americans in the county. And yet its board of trustees does not require Native American representation. This is wrong for a school this important to Native Americans, there is a perspective that only someone who is a member of a tribe can bring, and this bill fixes it. You need an odd number of board members to avoid tie votes, thus adding two members and then tweaking political representation to keep the same proportions. It also does not makes sense to limit local representation to just two members, at least two is more appropriate.

Arguments Against:

Not having a Native American board member has not hurt the ability of the school to offer great educational opportunities to Native Americans, so no need to rock the boat.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1108

HB20-1110 Higher Education Student Emergency Assistance Grants (Donovan (D), Coram (R)) [McLachlan (D), Exum (D)]

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Fund small emergency grants to higher education students who face unexpected financial emergencies that may require them to withdraw from school.

Description:

Creates the Emergency Completion and Retention Grant Program 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. Grants go to institutions of higher education, which then must distribute to eligible students. Maximum of $500 per student. Institutions must prioritize eligible students who are low-income and are in the first generation of their family to enroll in post-secondary education. Institutions can, when appropriate, pay a third-party directly for the student’s expenses. State must determine reporting criteria for these institutions and must report results to legislature.

Additional Information:

Things eligible as a financial emergency include:

  • Costs for vehicle repair
  • Being unable to pay rent or buy food as a result of an unexpected circumstance
  • Medical emergency
  • Family emergency
  • Other costs that are non-predictable educational expenses the institution may identify

Reporting criteria for institutions must include a way to measure success of grants in raising student persistence and graduation rates. State must report to legislature: amount given to each institution and what they in turn distributed as grants, number of students and types of emergencies grants were given for, and evaluation of if program is helping increase persistence and graduation rates.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

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 without taking on even more debt. And there is little that is more devastating for someone’s future financial situation than taking on student loan debt but not getting the degree. It is the worst of both worlds. 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.

Arguments Against:

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.


The $500 cap is too low given the costs of things like medical bills and is not tied to inflation. We need more flexibility to deal with a wide variety of cases. This bill also does not appropriate any money to this fund, it will be left to fight with everything else in the budgeting process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1110

HB20-1280 CDHE Data For Student Return On Investment Metrics (Bridges (D), Smallwood (R)) [Kipp (D), Larson (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Increase hard data in annual return on investment for post-secondary education report by including data from more institutions.

Description:

Authorizes the department of higher education to collect data necessary to calculate return on investment metrics for undergraduate degree and certificate programs from private occupational schools, public out-of-state higher education institutions, private in-state higher education institutions (including non-profits), and seminary and religious training institutions. State already collects this data from other higher education institutions in the state. It uses this data on its annual return on investment report.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is a great report that gives clear windows into costs and benefits of post-secondary education but the problem is that right now all of the hard data comes from Colorado public institutions. Everything else is estimated from other sources or just not included. We instead need hard data from all schools Coloradans may attend, within reason of our ability to get the data (so out-of-state private institutions are out for instance). This will improve the quality and breadth of the report.

Arguments Against:

Private institutions are private and should not be forced to divulge this information to the state. Out-of-state institutions may present some difficulties in gathering the information as they are not beholden to us at all and may simply ignore requests for data. The report also already uses other nationally available data sources to fill in some of the gaps.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1280

HB20-1341 State Higher Education Capital Construction Long-range Planning (Fields (D), Sonnenberg (R)) [Roberts (D), Rich (R)]

From the Capital Development Committee

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require 2 year construction projections by institutions of higher education to get reviewed at next available meeting of higher education commission rather than annually, removes the legislature from some oversight of these projections and makes explicit the timing on its remaining oversight.

Description:

Instead of requiring higher education commission to get annual 2 year projections on construction projects undertaken by institutions of over $2 million for new projects or over $10 million for work on existing facilities, the bill requires the projection to be reviewed at the commission’s next board meeting. Repeals requirements that commission annually prepare a unified report on these projects, that the legislature have a hearing whenever a projection is amended, and that the legislature must review and approve guidelines regarding classification of facilities as academic or auxiliary. Sets a timeframe for the legislature to hold its mandated hearing on the two-year-projections at 30 in-session after submission and 45 days out-of-session. Also requires presentation of current projections at the legislature’s regular December hearing on capital development.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This basically is cleaning up laws to meet our current practice, which is that the commission discusses these projects at its next meeting after it gets them, not annually. It also clarifies when the legislature should hold its required hearings on the projections and removes the legislature from things it does not need to be involved in.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1341

HB20-1366 Higher Education Funding Allocation Model (Zenzinger (D), Rankin (R)) [Esgar (D), McCluskie (D)]

From the Joint Budget Committee

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Revamp the formula for higher education funding by deemphasizing size and putting more weight toward performance improvement in key metrics identified by the state’s master higher education plan.

Description:

Changes the current formula for higher education funding beginning in the 2021-22 fiscal year. This does not affect specialty education programs, area technical colleges, and local district colleges which remain the same. The new formula will take our current allocation as a baseline. The state higher education commission and the department of higher education may recommend an additional amount of funding to this baseline either to make progress toward master plan goals which are not addressed by the rest of the formula or to recognize additional costs for institution related to providing service to Colorado resident first-generation undergraduates (first person in their family to attend). If the addition is based upon first-generation costs, there is a specific formula to determine how much should be added (see Additional Information).

The commission and department must then calculate performance based funding for each institution based on its improvement on a series of performance metrics:

  • Colorado residents full-time equivalent enrollment
  • Colorado residents that are eligible for Pell grants share of the overall student population
  • Colorado residents that are part of underrepresented minorities share of the overall student population
  • Colorado resident first-generation undergraduate share of the overall student population
  • Retention rate (coming back for year 2)
  • Completion of credentials
  • On-time graduation rate
  • Graduation rate within 150% of expected time (6 years for 4 year institutions and 3 years for 2 year institutions)

The commission and department, in coordination with the Joint Budget Committee in the state legislature can determine each metric’s weight toward the overall performance based funding each year. The rate of improvement is determined by dividing the average of the four most recent years by the average of the three oldest years in the data set. This is then multiplied by the institution’s baseline to determine the percentage of the money for that particular metric the institution receives. So if an institution improves by 5%, they are going to get a 5% boost over the baseline in the funds they receive in that particular metric. The state must ensure of course that the total amount distributed does not exceed the amount allocated, so if every school were to improve the exact same amount, they would all get the baseline allocation.

At this point the commission and department may recommend extra temporary funding for a specific institution. This does not get added to the permanent baseline and must be allocated for a specific period of time.

The commission must review this funding formula every five years, beginning in 2026, and report to the legislature any proposed changes.

The School of Mines may request to opt-out of this funding procedure and propose a different funding structure more like a specialized educational program.

Additional Information:

The first-generation stat is a new one, schools must start gathering it this fall. Until there are four years worth of data, this will be measured as year-to-year change with a floor of 2.5%. The Joint Budget Committee is allowed to change this floor as needed.

The additional baseline formula for first-generation students is calculated by dividing the institution’s resident first-generation headcount by its overall resident population, then multiplying that percentage by the resident first-generation headcount. So if you had 200 first-generation residents and 1000 overall residents, you would multiply 200 by 20% (20/1000). The state then does a weighted average to determine what percentage of additional funding each institution receives based on its first-generation population. In this example, if there were two other institutions who had 200 times 50% and 200 times 10%, then the three numbers would be: 40, 100, and 20. So the schools would get 25%, 62.5%, and 12.5% of the overall pot.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

This is the culmination of a few years of work, as soon as it became apparent that the changes made in 2013 to the higher education funding model by introducing a new formula (previously there was no formula at all) were not working as intended, and it has the unanimous support of the state’s higher education institutions. The current system has several problems. First, because it is highly based on volume (90% of funding), the big (and more financially stable) schools are advantaged over the smaller (and struggling) schools. CU and CSU reap the benefits while smaller schools like Adams State University and Fort Lewis College struggle. And the cycle becomes self-reinforcing. The legislature has gotten around this problem to some degree by simply ignoring the formula and boosting funding to these smaller schools. Obviously a formula you have to ignore every year is not a formula worth preserving. The second problem is that the formula doesn’t actually reward schools for the behavior we are looking for. We want these institutions to improve on graduating minority students, low-income students, first-generation college students, serving state residents, and increasing graduation rates in general. The new formula addresses these problems by taking our current funding levels as a base, with ability to tweak it to support progress toward the state’s master plan goals or to address additional costs in serving first-generation students, and then moving schools up or down by tying some funds to performance on these key metrics. As a final backstop, additional funding can be temporarily allocated. So we in essence start with size, because that is where we are right now. And then over time we are rewarding schools that are improving on the metrics we want. Size will still be important, but small schools that perform will be able to swim upstream. We will also have greatly increased flexibility in year-to-year decision making rather than be tied to a rigid formula that may rapidly go out-of-date. And on the concept of comparing performance against yourself rather than against others: there is too much apples and oranges going on here, with different institutions serving different purposes, for us to say that one institution’s graduation rate should even be in the same neighborhood as another. Metro State and CU are fundamentally different institutions serving fundamentally different populations and should not be judged against each other on something like graduation rate. Since we know the School of Mines is such a different kettle of fish entirely it can opt-out of this formula for a different mechanism. And there is not a school that does not have room for improvement on any of these metrics (even the School of Mines). Finally, there is review built into this bill: every five years we will revisit this formula and makes changes as necessary. It is also important to note that if we put this bill off until next year we will be using the old formula for the 2021-22 budget year. It is simply not possible to use a new formula passed in the same legislative session for that year’s budget.

Arguments Against:

This is not so much a formula as a giant black box. The legislature gets to decide how the performance metrics are weighted each year. So instead of a formula where we have known results so long as you have access to the underlying data, we have the Joint Budget Commission making the decision each year on weighting, based on recommendations by the state commission on higher education and the department of higher education. A school may think that because the highest weighted metric in one year was percent of students graduating on-time (for example), it will be the highest next year only to discover that their energies should have been put into enrolling more Colorado residents. And while of course we want to improve on all of these areas, one of the first and most basic rules of performance-based compensation (which in essence is what this is) is that the precise rules must be clear to everyone at the beginning. Otherwise it is too easily to alter the “formula” each year simply to get the outcome you desire. Not to mention the additional ongoing base funding and temporary additional funding areas allow the legislature to simply ignore their formula and tinker around with the allocations each year (the ongoing base funding does have some mathematical principles behind it but it is a qualitative decision on whether it is needed or not). Which is what we are already doing right now. In addition, the performance metrics are entirely tied to improvement. Which is great if you are bad at something to begin with, but really terrible if you are good at something because it is extremely difficult to improve. Let’s take on-time graduation rate for instance. Institution A graduates 60% of its students in four years. Institution B graduates 20% of its students in four years. Over the next three years, institution A gets rates of 58%, 62%, and 61%. Institution B gets rates of 30%, 34%, and 32%. Which of these two schools should be rewarded for its graduation rate? Under the formula in this bill, it is institution B all the way, as they have improved their rate while institution A has basically stayed flat. This is not a mere hypothetical: the School of Mines has a 60% graduation rate and there are two 4 year institutions with a 20% rate. Now the School of Mines has a carve-out in this bill to request an entirely different funding structure (for obvious reasons). So what about CU (48%) and Metro State (10%)? It may be harder for CU to go from 48% to 60% than it will be for Metro to go from 10% to 22%. You can then repeat this thought exercise for every metric. Improvement is important, but so is underlying performance.


This cannot be properly publicly heard at the moment due to Coronavirus and the legislature’s refusal to let people testify remotely. Just because it has the unified support of the institutions of higher education does not mean a change this big should sail through the legislature in a week. It should be put off until 2021 and then be given the usual full and vigorous consideration.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1366

HB20-1407 College Admission Use Of National Test Score (Story (D)) [Kipp (D), Baisley (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow public state institutions of higher education to temporarily decide for themselves if they need standardized testing scores (ACT or SAT) for admission.

Description:

Allows public state institutions of higher education to decide for themselves if they must require standardized testing for admission of first-time freshmen students who graduated from high school in 2021.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Right now students literally cannot take standardized tests as the governing bodies have not moved to allowing these to be done online. We need to give our schools the flexibility to opt-out of requiring the tests in case we just cannot get them (right now they must use them).

Arguments Against:

We shouldn’t give the schools the choice. If students cannot take the SAT or ACT then we must prohibit the schools from requiring a standardized test. Obviously we have to make sure to write the law so that it will change if the situation changes.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1407

SB20-004 Postsecondary Education Loan Repayment Assistance (Fenberg (D)) [Herod (D), McCluskie (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None, but governor’s budget has $14 million earmarked to run the program for 3 years.
Fiscal Impact: Minimal to run program, $6.5 million annually at full implementation

Goal: Pay the first two years of federal student loans for Colorado students from Colorado schools who qualify for federal income-driven repayment plans.

Description:

Creates the “Get on Your Feet Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program” which will pay up to 24 months of a qualified federal student loan that is in a federal income-driven repayment plan taken out by someone who earned a degree from an institution of higher learning in Colorado, lives in Colorado, and works in Colorado (exceptions for those on active duty in the armed forces). Money goes directly to the loan administrator, not to the individual. State can require reimbursement if it discovers someone is in violation of program requirements. People who can demonstrate extreme hardship as a result of a disability or other similar circumstance can continue having their loans paid beyond the 24 months at the discretion of the managing state agency. Bill is not retroactive, only applies to who graduate after January 2021.

Additional Information:

State is required to annually verify eligibility for those in the program. Individuals applying have two years after their graduation date to enter the program. Program members cannot be in default on any federal or state student loans. People whose loan repayment amount is set at 0 are not eligible. People who are suspended from the program may reapply, but the 24 month payment period does not reset if they re-enter the program: past payments still count.

Federal income-based repayment loans set loan repayment amounts at a proportion of a person’s income, as opposed to a flat amount, generally in the 10-15% range of discretionary income. To qualify someone’s payment must be lower than the standard payment, so there is a natural barrier to high-income earners from entering the program.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Student loan debt is an enormous problem, as tuitions continue to skyrocket. In our free market system we cannot dictate to all of these schools precisely what they charge and we cannot force them to stop trying to compete with schools all around the country in terms of amenities offered. While we may be able to help curb tuition in some areas, without largescale change on a federal level it is what it is and we have to work within that system. Currently it is estimated that 52% of Colorado’s students graduate with debt averaging over $24,000 each. In all, 761,000 people in the state owe over $27 billion in student loan debt. People with student debt are obviously less likely to own a home and start a business. And having some sort of post-secondary degree has become more and more necessary to succeed in today’s economy. Furthermore, the current setup penalizes lower income Coloradans, who are less likely to be able to afford to go to post-secondary schools and thus much more likely to be reliant on debt. This all hinders the economy of the state and the mobility of our citizens. While there may not be much the state, with its constrained resources, can do about past student loan debt, we can reward individuals who live in our state and attend our institutions of higher learning. The Get on Your Feet program has actually been running in New York since 2015, so it is not an untested idea. The estimate from the governor’s office is that about 5,300 people would qualify for this program (and piggybacking off the income-based system ensures the state doesn’t have to do any complex qualification work and ensures that we will be helping the lower-income folks who need it most). These people can take those first two years to get established in a career and life that they want to pursue and lead, rather than rush into the highest paying job they can find. The program requires someone to have a job, so it will not reward anyone for just sitting around doing nothing. After two years, they are on their own for handling their student loans going forward but they’ve critically had the breathing space to get settled before assuming that burden. A hand up is not the same thing as a hand out and this program would most certainly be a hand up.

Arguments Against:

The core problem we face with student loan debt is the ever increasing and ridiculous costs of attending these schools. Instead of providing a basic, clean, and safe environment for students, we’ve veered down a path into an arms race of climbing walls, nap pods, and all sorts of other unnecessary amenities that have little or nothing to do with either the vaunted “experience” of living on your own for the first time without the responsibilities of a job or the actual educational experience that is the real goal of attending a post-secondary school. So instead of spending millions of dollars annually to help a chosen few, we should hone in on lowering costs and providing reasonable alternatives to those who don’t need or want Club Med. In addition, this bill is an unfunded mandate that is not capped (it is just limited by how many Coloradans attend in-state school and qualify for the federal program) and contains a rather large escape hatch in the form of an unelected state employee having the power to continue paying someone’s loans indefinitely for hardship reasons that are not sharply defined by the bill. What sort of lessons are we teaching our youth if we skip out on responsibility? The costs of attending a school are not hidden and there are lower-cost alternatives that can get people the same degree. Life is about making difficult choices and having to stand on your own feet. One of the first lessons we give to our youth as they enter the workplace should not be that the government will stand for you, even if just for a little while.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-004

SB20-006 Amend Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (Zenzinger (D), Story (D)) [Kipp (D), Baisley (R)]

From the Making Higher Education Attainable Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: $5 million None
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Tweak the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative to give it wider latitude in grant awards and update language so it can function more easily.

Description:

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) is a 1:1 matching grant program created in 2014 to create a network of student support and scholarship programs throughout the state to boost attainment of post-secondary education credentials. This bill changes the existing program to allow COSI to spend more than 10% of all money awarded in a year on state agencies and non-profit organizations for student success and support services and the requirement that of this specific type of award, at least 70% go to non-governmental entities. The bill also makes a few smaller changes to better align with federal terminology and simplify eligibility rules. Gives $5 million to the fund.

Additional Information:

Changes “tuition assistance” to “financial assistance”, which is how the federal government defines the term and includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, transportation, and other allowable expenses. Removes requirement that administrator must come from existing personnel. Changes the eligibility provision from equal distribution between PELL grant students and students within certain household income ranges to equal distribution between students with less than 100% family contribution of annual PELL award and those with between 100 and 250% family contribution.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

These are changes the program asked for (except that it asked for $7.5 million in funding). The current restrictions on student support grants make it impossible for COSI to provide all of its scholarship students with the support services that have been demonstrated to be effective at increasing education completion rates and student well-being. Both the 10% rule and the underlying 70% rule just don’t align with what COSI has found to be best practices. As for the additional funds, this program has a proven success rate, with 100% of eligible state institutions of higher education participating and 97% of the state’s counties. COSI backed students have significantly higher levels of persistence in sticking with their education than non-COSI students and the design of the program itself, 1:1 matching, means we are making great use out of our state funds by in effect doubling the amount spent.

Arguments Against:

We put restrictions on spending on support services and not spending too much on governmental agencies for good reasons. The primary goal remains scholarships and access and we want to make sure we aren’t just passing money around from one government agency to another. If the current ratios do not work, then the better step is to tweak them into a place where they do, rather than just throw them out.


Grant funding is not a substitute for adequate, long-term, sustained education funding. We should spend these funds directly in our institutions of higher education to drive down the costs of attendance for everyone.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-006

SB20-031 Improve Student Success Innovation Pilot (Story (D)) [Kipp (D), Sullivan (D)]

From the Making Higher Education Attainable Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: SIGNIFICANT

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriations: $60 million total, $20 $1 million in each of the next three years
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Create a pilot program to incentivize collaboration among multiple institutions of higher education to improve success rate of students completing post-secondary education.

Description:

Creates the Improve Student Success Innovation Pilot Program to be run by the department of higher education. This program will distribute grants to collaborating institutions of higher education for programs to increase the number of students who successfully complete post-secondary education. All program proposals must include a maximum one-year research phase and maximum two-year implementation phase. Department must report annually on the pilot program’s progress. $20 $1 million appropriated for each of the next three years to fund the program.

Additional Information:

Program must prioritize applications that address common barriers to post-secondary completion, including:

  • Completion and submission of applications, including financial aid
  • Consistent attendance and retention, including access to basic living necessities and health care
  • Efficient completion of applicable education and obtaining desired post-graduation path (either more school or full-time employment related to field of study)

Program must also consider:

  • Probability of application to increase number of students who successfully complete post-secondary education
  • Ability of proposal to be adopted and implemented at other institutions
  • Degree to which the proposal advances other objectives of the department relating to student success

Program participants must provide data and information to the state regarding outcomes, costs, student participation and satisfaction, and any other data needed to evaluate program effectiveness.


Auto-Repeal: July 2024

Arguments For:

Post-secondary education is becoming more and more necessary to success in our workplace. Numerous studies have shown that lifetime earnings are hundreds of thousands of dollars higher for those with a bachelor’s degree than for those with just a high school diploma. But one of the worst things that can happen to someone is to take out loans to get that degree and then fail to finish. The loans still have to be repaid. And the lifetime earnings of someone with some college are much closer to a high school graduate than to a college graduate (the difference is roughly double). Our completion rate for post-secondary education has shown slight improvement but remains below 60% in six years with just 37% completing a degree in four years. We have a lot of work to do and like many problems, this one has many different areas to attack. Which makes it ideal for a pilot program like this bill, which also emphasizes collaboration and the ability to transfer learnings across institutions. Because this issue is so critical for the future success of our citizens, we must make a large effort, not a token one, to solve it.

Arguments Against:

This is an inappropriately large amount of money to spend on a pilot program (or even several pilot programs). The idea behind a pilot is to try a bunch of things in a small way to see what might work and then spend the big money on the stuff that does. Having this much money to throw around is just going to encourage obviously poor ideas to get funding rather than focusing the department and our institutions of higher education on the very best ideas to pilot.


Cost and a one-size fits all mentality to post-secondary education. Those are the two barriers to more of our kids successfully finishing post-secondary education. Grant funding is not a substitute for adequate, long-term, sustained education funding. We need to be driving the cost of school down (which for out state institutions involves supporting them with more money so they don’t need to charge as much in tuition) and invest more in non-traditional forms of post-secondary education rather than trying to force everyone through the cookie cutter experience.


This is not enough money to make a big difference. The original bill did.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-031

SB20-112 College Trust Scholarship For Early Graduation (Priola (R)) [Buentello (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal each year to run program, around $4.1 million in scholarships and money to state education fund

Goal: Take the money the state does not have to spend on students who graduate high school early and give part of it to the student as a college scholarship and part back to the schools to pay down the budget stabilization factor to programs designed to increase concurrent enrollment.

Description:

Creates the College Trust Scholarship Program for Early High School Graduation to reward high school students who complete their graduation before their fourth year of school and move on to a post-secondary program. The school or student is responsible for notifying the state when this occurs. Every year the state must put into the college trust scholarship fund the greater of two-thirds of the average state share of the average per-pupil cost or $3,000 for each student who has graduated early. The remainder of the money saved is to be sent to the state education fund and must first used to pay down the budget stabilization factor (money we owe our schools) programs that increase concurrent enrollment in high schools. To use the scholarship money, a student must start a post-secondary program in the state prior to reaching age of 21, with exceptions available on a case-by-case basis. Student can use the funds for tuition, fees, and other expenses associated with cost of the post-secondary program. Money can be used until the student has exhausted their portion or has reached 26 must be used within one year of student entering post-secondary program. Any unused funds go into the state education fund. State must annually report on the program to the legislature.

Additional Information:

Report must include:

  • Number of eligible graduates receiving a scholarship in the current year, the amount of the scholarship, and the post-secondary program for which the funds were used
  • Amount that was transferred to the state education fund
  • Amount of scholarship funds that were forfeited or projected to be forfeited in the upcoming year
  • Any requested adjustments to the program


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The fact is that if these students had not graduated early the state would have had to pay this amount to the school districts. Their early graduation saves this money for other purposes, and what better purpose than to reward these students and help them navigate the next phase of their education and help our schools? Annually this will put about $2.7 million toward about 768 students’ postsecondary education and about $1.4 million toward paying down the hundreds of millions of dollars we owe our schools getting even more students concurrently enrolled in colleges. This is a win-win for our high-achieving students, who get help with the at-times extremely expensive post-secondary education, and for our schools, who get back some of the money they are owed the next group of students who want to take advantage of concurrent enrollment. It also incentivizes students to use Colorado schools, since that is the only way they can access the scholarship funds. Finally, it will incentivize students to try to graduate early so as to qualify for this program which can be a boon to the students and to the state as a whole. We have lots of other programs to help students earn free college credit while still in high school and yet others to help with getting apprenticeships and other alternative paths to four-year degrees. So the existence of this program does not mean we are ignoring students who are taking a different or more difficult path.

Arguments Against:

This isn’t money that comes out of a tree. When we save money on a pupil not attending school that money is spent on something else in our state budget. So taking the money we save and putting most of it into the hands of the student (without by the way any means testing to see if they really need it) and some of it back to the schools takes money away from a different program where it would have been spent or from our reserves, which we rely on in economic downturns to backfill our budget needs. Someone who is a high enough achiever to finish high school in three years is probably a high enough achiever to earn a scholarship. They might not need this money as much as a student struggling to complete high school who needs help transitioning into post-secondary education so as to build a stable financial foundation as an adult. That is where our focus should be.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-112

SB20-123 Compensation And Representation Of Student Athletes (Fields (D), Bridges (D)) [Coleman (D), Herod (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow students athletes in Colorado at institutions of higher education to enter into endorsement contracts and earn money of their name, image, or likeness.

Description:

Prohibits any institution of higher education in the state from denying a student athlete the ability to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. Also bars athletic associations, including the NCAA, from preventing a student athlete from receiving compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness or from preventing an institution that allows its student athletes to do this from competing in events or games. Bars both institutions and associations from paying prospective athletes or from preventing a student athlete from obtaining professional representation for contracts or legal matters. Student contracts must not conflict with any institution team contracts.

Additional Information:

Students must report any contracts they sign within 72 hours or prior to their next athletic event. Institutions that assert a conflict with one of their contracts must disclose to the student or their representation the relevant contract provisions that are in conflict. Anyone representing a student must be an attorney.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Athletic departments and the NCAA, particular in football and basketball, rake in money on the backs of unpaid student athletes. Just last year the NCAA men’s basketball tournament brought in $1.29 billion in television revenue. And college coaches also rake in money, both in direct compensation and from endorsements. Any athlete that is good enough and prominent enough for a company to want to pay them money for an endorsement should be able to do so. College sports is already a cesspool of illegal payments, we are not saving the purity of anything with the current system. This bill also does not pay athletes, so we are not dismantling the notion of a student athlete and not drastically remaking the landscape of college athletics. And the NCAA finally seems to be on-board, after California passed a similar bill last year the NCAA backed down and said it would explore allowing this (it is not challenging the California law either). So this will ultimately put Colorado on a level playing field with other states.

Arguments Against:

The reason we don’t allow student athletes to get paid is because it immediately invites schools to bid for players. The bill bans schools from paying recruits but there will probably be a lot of winking going on as these schools promise to funnel booster money to prospective students in order to get them to attend. The fact that schools currently abuse the system is no reason to make it easier for them to do so, it is a reason to crack down harder on the abuses. And finally many of the best student athletes, certainly the ones who are good enough to earn endorsements, already get paid. They get either a partly or entirely free education, which is worth its weight in gold when it comes to future earnings. Many students also receive stipends and if they need money, can try a part-time job like any other college student. This bill also allows students to sign contracts with agents, another red line in college athletics as we try to delineate between professional and amateur sports.

This bill doesn’t do enough. It is great to allow athletes to get endorsements but that is only going to benefit a select few. The rest of the student athletes will continue to toil, sometimes at risk of physical harm, while the coaches, athletic departments, gamblers, and boosters profit off their backs. It is nearly a full-time job being an athlete, much less a student-athlete, so most do not have the time to work a part-time job in addition to their other responsibilities. Many student athletes come from poor backgrounds, and many are also minorities. There is a reason the entrenched interests at the NCAA backed down so quickly and so easily. Most student athletes may not be helped by this bill.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-123

SB20-143 Funding Higher Education Student Transition Programs (Story (D)) [Young (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible to run program

Goal: Create a grant transition program to allow students to enroll at both two-year and four-year institutions of higher education simultaneously and earn credits that apply to degrees at both institutions.

Description:

Creates a grant transition program to allow students to enroll at both two-year and four-year institutions of higher education simultaneously. To be eligible, a two- and four-year institution must partner together in a memorandum of understanding so that students are enrolled at both institutions simultaneously, can take classes at either, can get student support services (including housing) at either, and ensures students are taking courses to satisfy degree requirements at both schools. This support must in the form of a full-time professional advisor located at the two-year institution. Institutions may not charge extra fees for participating in the program. Students have to pay for tuition and fees for courses and services. State is to start awarding grants by April 2021. It must also consider geographic location to try to cover as much of the state as possible and prioritize maximum participation by students who might otherwise not enroll in a four-year institution. Maximum grant is $150,000 a year. Grants must be renewed if institutions are following program guidelines for four years. Money is primarily for funding the advisors and marketing. Grantees must report to the state and the state must report to the legislature on annual basis. Program repeals July 2026.

Additional Information:

Grant applications must include:

  • Explanation of how the transition program meets grant program guidelines
  • Eligibility requirements for students to participate
  • Description of how degree pathways are aligned so students can meet degree requirements at both institutions
  • How the schools’ technology will allow them to share information necessary to operate the program and if not, the plan for making them able to
  • Stated support for the program from leaders at both institutions
  • Marketing plan for increasing student awareness and participation
  • Timeline for implementing the program
  • Goals for expanding the program during the grant
  • How the grant money will be used

Grantees must report:

  • Number of students in program and their combined GPA
  • Program retention rates
  • Number of students in program who complete 60 hours and subsequently enroll at the four-year institution
  • Number of students who transfer to different four-year institution
  • Graduation rate and time to completion of students in the program


Auto-Repeal: July 2026

Arguments For:

Many students are not ready for four-year college institutions when they graduate high school but a four-year degree remains superior in terms of lifetime earnings potential. So we want to offer opportunities for students to attend two-year programs while simultaneously laying the groundwork for attending that four-year school without having to start from scratch (or near scratch). Because that is another barrier, someone has just spent two years earning an associate’s degree may not want to spend another three or four getting a bachelor’s because most of their two-year credits don’t line up at the four-year institution. This program can help get these programs off the ground without spending too much state money.

Arguments Against:

Cost may be an issue for students, as the bill simply requires them to pay tuition for classes and other services. Schools might interpret that as the full-bore tuition rate and it would be very hard for anyone to pay for attending two institutions of higher education at the same time. A structure that simply allowed the credits from the two-year to pass through to the four-year, while allowing the student to take a few classes at the four-year institution based on payment pass-throughs from the two-year institution might be easier financially. Because of course the prime target for this kind of program is not likely to have a lot of money available for post-secondary education. The bill also does not appropriate any money for the grant program, so it will have to fight for it against everything else in the budget.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-143

SB20-158 Professional Training For Educators (Todd (D)) [McLachlan (D), Wilson (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Change many of the minimum requirements for educator preparation programs in the state, add conditional approval status for these programs, and expand the existing educator loan forgiveness program for those that teach in rural areas.

Description:

  • Changes the wording around many of the minimum requirements the state must ensure any educator preparation program must have to put more focus on ability to teach reading, more in-depth and frequent focus on strategies and plans for individual educator candidates, and more emphasis on speaking skills during clinical experience and more flexibility around gaining that experience.
  • Expands the existing educator loan forgiveness program, which provides up to $25,000 of forgiveness over five years for those who teach in rural areas, by removing the annual cap on new applicants (was 100) and allowing any loan incurred while in a program that leads to licensure to qualify (used to have to be from an approved educator prep program).
  • Adds a new status for education preparation programs reviewed by the state: conditional approval. This allows a program to accept students. Requires any program in conditional approval or on probation to be reviewed more frequently than other programs, exact timing to be determined by state. Requires any new program that is approved to be reviewed again within one to two years of initial approval.

Additional Information:

We will not give the old wordings on minimum requirements here, you can view them in the bill text (they are crossed out). New text includes:

  • Program design around a shared vision of candidate proficiency and professionalism that supports decision making about partnerships and the integration of curricula, learners, and course work and clinical experiences
  • Mapping, planning, development, assessment, and support of candidate proficiencies, including candidates’ deep understanding of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, the content knowledge required for educating, and the dispositions and professional qualities needed to be successful
  • (this one is an addition, not a replacement) Reading course work and field practice opportunities must be a significant focus for teachers preparing for endorsement in elementary, early childhood, or special education
  • Intentional clinical experience, early and throughout preparation, relating to predetermined state content standards, which experiences afford candidates multiple, intentional experiences to learn from practice. Clinical experiences must be aligned with program curricula so that candidates develop pedagogical skills and pedagogical content knowledge.
  • A requirement that preparation program faculty, to improve their work, must engage in continuous evidence-based cycles of self-reflection and review regarding the impact of their programs on their candidates’ development throughout the programs. These cycles must include data on current candidates throughout the program and available data on program completers

Previous clinical experience requirement for teachers was one full continuous school year. New requirement is 800 hours. Programs may also accept hours completed before enrolling in the program. The majority of the hours must be through continuous placement. For every additional endorsement or advanced degree, there must an additional period of supervised field experiences that relate to predetermined standards for that particular endorsement or degree.

State must come up with rules on how long programs may remain on conditional approval or probation and the process by which they can change their status. Bill also clarifies that stipends provided to teacher candidates in rural areas (so not the loan forgiveness program but a different program for people still in school) are not student financial assistance. It allows teaching fellows (yet another program) to choose if they want the stipend to be financial assistance or wages.

State must post and annually update on its website a description of each of the existing paths that lead to licensure, including alternative licensure programs.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The percentage of students who read below grade level has actually risen slightly since 2012 (part of this could be due to better identification of struggling students) and is now at 60%. Kids who fall behind early never really catch up, there are numerous studies that demonstrate this. And we also know that part of the problem, frankly, is that some of the instruction is not right. The University of Northern Colorado, the state’s largest teacher preparation program, just got called out by the state for not teaching its students how to teach reading properly, with too little focus on scientific and evidence-based teaching methods and too much on validating whatever the student felt was the right approach. This bill does a lot of things, but one of the important ones is to rejigger our standards for teacher prep programs. We are losing a lot of vagueness and getting more individualized planning, more emphasis on being able to stand in front of a class and communicate, and of course more emphasis on teaching reading. As for the loan forgiveness program, the real cap on the number of applicants to the loan forgiveness program is the money in the fund to pay for it, not an arbitrary number. The law already has prioritization criteria for the state to work through if too many new people apply. So there is no reason to have an arbitrary cap, we can either pay for someone or not instead of worrying about if they are number 100 or number 101. Slightly broadening the scope also makes sense: we are interested in licensed teachers, not in precisely which program they came from. Finally, it makes sense to have another category beyond just accepted or on probation/failed (cannot bring in new students while on probation) for schools that are nearly there and can teach students but need more work. Thus conditional approval.

Arguments Against:

Words are nice, and this certainly reworks a lot of them when it comes to standards for these programs, but as always with teaching it is hard to measure exactly what results we are getting. This bill does not provide for any sort of score or rating on these teacher preparation programs. We rate our K-12 schools, why not rate the institutions that prepare our teachers? We also should care about what kind of program these teachers are coming from, that is the whole point of reworking the standards section and of certifying programs in the first place. So we should not be expanding the loan forgiveness program outside of that regulatory circle and if a school is not up to snuff enough to get full approval, probation (and no new students) remains appropriate.


The purpose of the cap on the loan forgiveness program is to cap our potential spending. Really the entire program is a bit risky, nothing prevents an individual from taking $25,000 in loan forgiveness and then leaving the tough to fill position to go somewhere else.