Our View: Another step forward for CMC | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Another step forward for CMC

— Colorado Mountain College stuck another feather in its cap Monday when the Higher Learning Commission approved the college system's plan to offer four-year bachelor degree programs in business administration and sustainability studies. But the real winner is Steamboat Springs.

With the final hurdle cleared in the path to expanded degree offerings for its students, CMC and its Alpine Campus here in Steamboat can now offer a lower-cost alternative for students who want a bachelor's degree but can't afford — or don't want — to pursue one at the state's larger universities along the Front Range and elsewhere.

Under a tuition plan approved last week by CMC's board of trustees, in-district students can expect to pay $95 per credit hour for bachelor's degree program classes. That means in-district students who start at CMC as freshmen and complete their bachelor's degree through the school would pay only $8,793 in total tuition and fees (based on existing rates) over four years.

In-state students who don't qualify as Steamboat residents would pay $200 per credit hour, and out-of-state students would pay $405 per credit hour.

The process toward four-year-degree offerings has taken shape over the past 18 months and included approval by the college system's Board of Trustees, the state Legislature and then-Gov. Bill Ritter. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education signed off on the plan as well, pending Monday's outcome from the Higher Learning Commission, which is the accrediting body for CMC and many other higher-education institutions across the nation.

CMC has the ability to add three other bachelor's degree programs in the future. The business administration and sustainability studies offerings will begin this fall at all 11 CMC campuses.

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This week's news represents the culmination of an exciting period of growth for the community college. After protracted negotiations with the city of Steamboat Springs, CMC recently approved plans to build a new 60,000-square-foot building on the Alpine Campus that will include offices, classrooms, an auditorium and a 6,000-square-foot commercial kitchen for a proposed culinary arts program. The $23 million project is expected to break ground in June, with demolition of Monson Hall taking place as soon as mid-May. School officials hope to raise $2.5 million through a local fundraising campaign.

It's hard not to like the vision of CMC officials and the potential impact to communities including Steamboat Springs. We've long appreciated the college's continuing education offerings for adults, its two-year-degree programs that provide relevant workforce training for our resort market and the partnerships it has forged with local high schools to allow students to get a jump-start on earning transferable college credit hours. Adding a new facility and four-year-degree programs will make the college more relevant and attractive to students and professionals for years to come.

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