The Colorado House Education Committee unanimously passed the
first college stipend bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from
some committee members.
Senate Bill 189 establishes a funding program that would allow
the state to give assistance to students rather than individual
institutions. In-state students planning to attend Colorado public
institutions would receive stipends of about $2,400. The bill is
headed next to the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill, which has received support from Gov. Bill Owens and
CSU President Larry Penley, also allows students attending private
universities like Colorado College, the University of Denver and
Regis University to qualify for half of the stipend. Other private
colleges, however, are not eligible for the aid.
Linda Kuk, vice president for Student Affairs, said supporters
of the bill believe it is a way to inform students of state
contributions to their tuition.
“The main benefits will be that it’ll help students understand
the costs of higher education,” Kuk said. “It puts the money in the
hands of students to contribute to their institutions.”
Supporters also say the bill will help the institutions escape
the restraints of TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which
controls the revenue and expenditures the state can make. This will
allow institutions to receive more outside funding.
“The voucher bill helps higher education not be subject to
spending limits,” Kuk said. “They will have the ability to raise
the tuition higher. I don’t know if they will because they don’t
want to out-price themselves.”
Jennifer Nettesheim, spokesperson for the Colorado Commission on
Higher Education, said the stipend program has a number of benefits
“The benefits it has on students is it will bring public
awareness that the state helps support education if you choose to
go to a public institution,” Nettesheim said. “We believe that if a
student knows we are helping pay, they will be more motivated to
apply to go to college.”
Nettesheim also said the bill will benefit institutions because
their budget will be less reliant on state funding.
“The bill allows them to receive less than 10 percent (of) state
funding,” Nettesheim said. “They will have the option of becoming
an enterprise being removed from TABOR.”
While opponents of the bill believe it misleads students and
parents to think they do not need to save for college, Nettesheim
said the commission thinks people don’t understand the way higher
education is currently funded.
“If you go into a high school and ask a student how much it
costs to go to college they have no idea,” Nettesheim said. “We
think it’s a wonderful opportunity to educate people. We can give
education at an affordable price. Will you have to save? Yes. There
are so many avenues to take to get an education. There are ways to
fund it. We don’t believe it’s misleading.”
CSU spokesman Tom Milligan said the bill is a positive
“One potentially positive effect is the money will follow the
student where they enroll,” Milligan said. “This is a good step.
It’s only a first step and it won’t solve the funding issues.”
Milligan said this bill might help bring more students to
“CSU enrolled more Colorado residents than any other campus. We
are proud of that,” he said. “I think it’s possible creating this
stipend will let people know there’s more money to attend college
and let more people come to CSU.”
While some people may worry this bill will increase tuition and
funds, Kuk said the bigger problem lies with the amount of money
“How they distribute per student is not the issue,” Kuk said.
“The problem is if the pot is big enough. The voucher system is a
way to help get out from under TABOR, not helping the amount of