With higher education on the precipice of a model overhaul and the search for sustainable funding having moved to center stage on university leadersâ€™ list of priorities, CSU unveiled a plan last week that will help low-to-middle-income students pay half of tuition â€“â€“Â and in some cases, $0, to get their degrees.
Introduced by CSU President Tony Frank and Gov. Bill Ritter at the state Capitol last week, Commitment to Colorado, as the financial aid program is called, will make it so that Colorado residents who are not eligible for the Federal Pell-Grant but whose family income is $57,000 annually or less pay for half of tuition and fees.
Students eligible for a Pell-Grant, awarded based on income tax, household size, savings, investments, employment status and residency, will not have to pay a dime of the $6,986 in general fees and tuitions each year.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, or fiscal year 2012, when Commitment to Colorado takes effect, an estimated 3,016 students will qualify for the financial aid.
For this the university must be applauded. Through the initiative, the education of thousands of students, many of whom never dreamt college was an option, is now a reality â€“â€“ one that will benefit the state and nation as a whole in return.
The downside, though, is that CSUâ€™s students who do not qualify for the program will ultimately pay more in tuition, which is required to funnel money into financial aid.
Higher education access is vital to societyâ€™s advancement. That is irrefutable.
But funding college costs for some at the expense of others begs the question of: What is fair? Will CSUâ€™s out-of-state and financially able students be forced out of the system and over to her sister universities?
For now, with state funding to Coloradoâ€™s colleges practically non-existent, the current model seems to be the only option to sustain Commitment to Colorado. For the future, there is a need for evaluation of alternatives.