Aug 232005
Authors: Joanna Thomas

Over the summer, students at CSU had an unexpected surprise – a 15 percent tuition increase.

Fortunately, students can take comfort in one stipend that is reducing their tuition and can help alleviate some of the costs – the College Opportunity Fund.

Cheryl Hesser, project manager for the College Opportunity Fund, said the COF is a trust fund that was set up by the legislature in May 2004.

"It was set up to ensure families that the state of Colorado was providing funding for students," Hesser said.

She said 98 percent, or 16,600, of eligible CSU students have applied and authorized the COF as of Friday.

"About 20 or 30 come in a day," Hesser said.

Before the introduction of the COF, this was money that CSU and other in-state public institutions received directly from the state legislature.

Through the COF the individual student receives $80 per eligible credit they are taking at any public institution.

At CSU a student taking 15 credits would receive $1,200 from the COF off of their $2,890.65 base tuition rate, Hesser said.

The 2 percent of students who have not applied and authorized their COF represents fewer than 300 students, Hesser said. However, those 300 or so students are still responsible for the total tuition.

"It's not a loss (of money) to CSU because the student still owes the university total tuition even if they don't apply for the stipend," Hesser said.

Jeremy McKoy, a sophomore international studies major, is on a scholarship through Air Force ROTC, which pays up to $9,000 a year for tuition, fees and books but does not include housing.

He said he registered and authorized the COF on RamWeb, but does not know what the consequences would have been had he not authorized the stipend.

"I have no idea if the money (from COF) is being used, or if it decreases what the Air Force has to pay," McKoy said.

Peter Seel, an associate professor at the department of journalism and technical communications, said from what he understands, the COF is not fair to students.

"Students are asked to carry more of the financial burden," Seel said.

He said that is not fair considering how much tuition has already been raised this year.

One good thing to come from the COF, Seel said, is that CSU gained enterprise status, which allowed CSU to get out of Tax Payer's Bill of Rights' (TABOR) restrictions.

Hesser said students must authorize the COF every semester. Authorization can be done until the end of the term.

Starting Oct. 24, freshmen and up begin to authorize their stipend for the spring semester. The information will appear on their individual RamWeb accounts.

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