Gov. Jared Polis has extended Colorado Free Application Day to Colorado Free Application Days, meaning students will now have three days to apply to public colleges or universities without paying an application fee.
All 32 public colleges and universities in Colorado, plus several private institutions, will welcome students to apply for free from Tuesday, Oct. 19 through Thursday, Oct. 21. All applications are available in English and Spanish. To waive the fee, the applications must be submitted within the three-day window, but students can start them ahead of time.
Colorado community and area technical colleges never charge for applications.
Fees for most U.S. college applications are typically about $50, and some universities charge closer to $100.
Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of Colorado Department of Higher Education, said extending Colorado Free Application Day to three days means students have more time to decide on their future.
“With so many options available, whether you go to college, technical school, attend a university, become an apprentice, or join the military, there’s a program in Colorado that will unlock your potential," Paccione said.
The purpose of this push is to increase the state's postsecondary-going and Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates. About 56% of Colorado high school seniors go to a college, university or certificate program and of those, 50% submit a FAFSA application, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
According to research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 75% of jobs in Colorado require education beyond high school, but only 61% of the adult population have a degree or certificate. Colorado Free Application Days aim to improve access to education, which is becoming more and more critical for the state's economy, according to the Department of Higher Education.
During the 2020 campaign, students submitted almost 57,000 applications, saving a total of more than $2.3 million. A third of them were from first-generation students. Application submissions in 2020 went up 23% from 2019.
“Earning a certificate or degree gives Coloradans the best opportunity to thrive in the profession of their choice,” Polis said. “Colorado is building back stronger and by eliminating this cost barrier, more Coloradans will have the opportunity to pursue those dreams. We need homegrown Colorado talent and bold ideas to make Colorado better than ever.”
The Colorado Department of Higher Education set a goal of reaching 66% attainment by 2025 for higher education. This plan, called Colorado Rises, prioritizes postsecondary enrollment and reducing equity gaps.
Colorado Free Application Days caps off Colorado Applies Month, a five-week campaign to help high school juniors and seniors and adults with the application process.