Colorado College students 082419 (copy)

The Colorado College class of 2018-2019 at graduation in May.

Recognizing that the $70,000-plus cost of attendance can cause sticker shock and deter would-be students from applying, Colorado College officials are launching an experimental scholarship program targeting prospective in-state students from low-income to middle-class families.

“We believe this sends a very strong statement to students across the state that they ought to look at Colorado College, and certainly they shouldn’t cross us off based on price,” said Mark Hatch, vice president for enrollment management.

While tuition, fees, room and board at the private, liberal arts college in Colorado Springs top $71,000 for the school year that begins Monday, next year’s incoming freshmen and transfer students who are Colorado residents will be eligible for a big break.

A $20 million endowment is being established, with $1 million earmarked to defray costs for incoming students from families who have an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or less.

Home equity will be excluded from family assets, Hatch said.

The goal, he said, is to level the playing field and make attending CC equivalent to or less than the price of attending a school in a state university system.

Parents who show an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000 won’t pay anything for tuition, room and board.

Tuition also will be waived for students in households earning $60,000 to $125,000, but parents will pay for room and board, which this school year is about $13,000.

And for students from families with adjusted gross incomes between $125,000 and $200,000, the cost will be “the same or less than the cost at the flagship state university in Colorado.”

That refers to the University of Colorado, Hatch said. He estimates parents in that category would pay around $32,000 to $34,000 to attend CC.

But, “We don’t want any one institution to think we’re pitting ourselves against them,” he said. “We’re sweetening the pot.”

Hatch anticipates 100 students will qualify for the program next year.

Colorado residents constitute 15 percent of incoming freshman at CC, which enrolls 2,200 students.

Hatch said in-state applications have declined among the 10,000 applications the campus receives each year. School officials would like the number to increase to 20 percent and believe the new affordability program will help.

“Students from upper-middle-class families in the $125,000 to $200,000 range, under the standard formula colleges use, rarely if ever get need-based scholarships at a state university,” Hatch said.

The affordability program, which the college has dubbed The Colorado Pledge, will be evaluated in the spring for its success and possible continuation, he said. For now, the program will apply to the 540 freshmen in the class of 2020, and be provided through their four years of education at CC.

The cost to attend CC is “right at the median” of selective, private colleges across the nation, Hatch said, and is “by no means among the most expensive.”

About half of CC students receive scholarship funding totaling $40 million each school year, he said. One-third of financial aid awarded each year comes from the school’s $775 million endowment fund.

“Our message is that private school may be within your reach,” Hatch said.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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