Hot Sheet

‘College is not for everyone,’ senator says, so make tuition assistance flexible

Author: Dan Njegomir - March 10, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017


A bipartisan effort to give Colorado’s vocational/technical school students greater access to state tuition assistance breezed through a Senate committee at the Capitol Thursday with unanimous support.

As noted on the state’s legislative website, the Department of Higher Education runs a tuition-assistance program for students enrolled in career and technical education certificate programs at trade schools and other institutions. That state program provides tuition assistance for students who meet income-eligibility requirements but do not qualify for a federal Pell grant because their certificate program does not happen to meet the Pell grant’s minimum credit-hour requirements.

House Bill 1180 fixes that, expanding eligibility for the tuition assistance program by including students who meet a state income eligibility standard — separate from the federal Pell standard — that is established by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The bill’s sponsors in the upper chamber are Sens. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Tim Neville, R-Littleton. In a press statement issued by the Senate GOP, Neville says:

“Our current system is punishing our young people who dare to think outside the box…College is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that those folks shouldn’t receive the same assistance in pursuing the dream of a better future through opportunity. As long as this program exists, it should be available to all our students, not just those who fit the mold of ‘traditional education.'”

As noted in a press statement from the Senate Democrats:

House Bill 1180 would ensure that tuition assistance funds go to students who desperately need aid, and quickly, relieving some burden for paying tuition, course materials, and fees. For those interested in learning a trade, this move provides much-needed support in their future careers.

The bill previously passed the House with near-unanimous, bipartisan support.


Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.