Dec 162002
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

Sending more students to college could come at the expense of students already in college.

In an effort to send more students on to higher education, at their Nov. 22 meeting, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Governors Blue Ribbon Panel worked on a proposal to develop a college savings account to send students to school that might not be able to go otherwise.

However, in order to create the savings account, the CCHE and Blue Ribbon Panel would also limit the number of state-subsidized credit hours for in-state students to 140.

“To make the stipend worth something, you can’t subsidize kids going to school forever,” said Joan Ringel, spokesperson for the CCHE.

What the proposal involves, Ringel said, is providing $4,000 a year for four years to send Colorado students to a university in Colorado. At the same time, students would lose their in-state subsidization for credits over 140.

Losing in-state subsidization could result in an increase of around $5,000 a year for tuition, Ringel said, but this would still be less than the tuition for out-of-state students.

For students already in college, they would be grandfathered in, Ringel said, meaning that a current student of sophomore standing or above would have in-state subsidization for 140 credits more than the number of credits they already have. Incoming freshmen, however, would only receive in-state subsidization for 140 credits.

“The people involved with the Blue Ribbon Panel are very excited about this, but it will take some time to sort out,” Ringel said. The soonest that the plan could be implemented would be next September, but Ringel said that it most likely wouldn’t go into effect until the fall of 2005.

“The 140 cap was decided on in November, but it has to go through the legislators,” Ringel said. “Anything could happen when 100 legislators have their handprint in it.”

In the meantime, ASCSU will fight the proposal. The students most likely to be affected are the students with double majors and diverse interests, said Dave Bower, president of ASCSU.

“A lot of times it’s the best students who go above the credit limit,” Bower said.

Ringel, however, said that the feeling is that it wouldn’t be hurting too many students, since most students don’t actually take more than 140 credits.

Bower said that ASCSU will start talking to people at the Capitol, trying to show them what kind of students are going above 140 credits. “If a lot of them actually listen, we might actually be able to eliminate the idea,” he said.

ASCSU is attempting to get professional advising at the state level, but needs the administration to sign a contract to hire the person, which it has not yet done, Bower said.

The credit cap has the potential to affect many of CSU’s in-state students, which make up approximately 78 percent of the students, Bower said.

“The Senate has talked to a lot of students, and we don’t know a lot of students who are gung-ho about limiting the amount of education,” he said.

The cap would also discourage students from double majoring, said Lisa Zimprich, a senior majoring in psychology. “It limits a student’s ability to pursue their interests, and it forces them to come in with a major and to stick with that major.”

Zimprich also says that a credit cap would shake the entire objective of education. “The purpose of education is for students to fulfill their dreams and potential. If we put a cap on that, we need to rethink the goals of education,” she said.

A credit cap might also discourage students from staying in state, said Kali Kerns, a freshman Spanish major. “If I have to pay more, then I should just go out-of-state and get that experience,” Kerns said.

Ringel said that the Blue Ribbon Panel met Thursday to decide on an outline of the proposal to be sent to the governor in January.

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