Steamboat Springs Colorado State University is making a big play to attract students by dramatically decreasing tuition, a program that President Tony Frank said speaks to the university’s mission as a land-grant school.
Frank spent the weekend in Northwest Colorado, including stops in Steamboat Springs and Craig.
One of the programs he discussed with residents is CSU’s Commitment to Colorado program, which was announced last month. The program slashes the university’s yearly tuition in half or entirely for students whose families meet certain income thresholds.
Beginning with the 2011-12 academic year, Colorado families who make no more than $57,000 annually — the median family income in the state — can send their children to CSU for half the yearly tuition rate, more than $2,600. Students who are eligible for Pell grants would not pay to attend the university, an annual savings of about $6,300 according to the university’s website.
Frank said eligible students still would apply for federal financial aid and what they don’t receive to realize the savings, CSU would make up the difference.
He said the university’s mission with the Commitment to Colorado program is to attract more first-generation college students. College enrollment usually increases during a recession, which is true for CSU, Frank said. He said the university has experienced record enrollment in each of the past four years.
CSU currently has more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including 82 percent from Colorado, Frank said.
Some funding for the program was created by reallocating dollars the university, by state law, was required to save for other financial aid programs. Frank said it would cost an additional $1.8 million more than what CSU already has allocated for financial aid, but the university already is working to secure private donations.
Frank said Commitment to Colorado is designed to allow students a quality, affordable education, which was part of the intention when CSU was established in 1862 as a land-grant college under the Morrill Act that funded the creation of agricultural institutions.
“That still matters,” he said.
Frank said the visit had other purposes, too, including to visit local Extension Service agents; meet with alumni; continue “meat and potato” recruiting; and as a steward of public dollars, to be as transparent as possible.
“In a lot of ways, the state makes a big investment in a university like CSU,” Frank said. “We have a responsibility to go out and show people what that investment is buying.”
Frank said in addition to himself, other CSU administrators and faculty members are touring the state as part of the university’s efforts to reach out to residents across Colorado’s counties.