The Colorado College campus, photographed on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at

For the past several years, Colorado students have left tens of millions in federal funds for their college education untapped — somewhere between $30 million to $50 million.

“It’s a pot of gold,” said Angie Paccione, the Colorado Higher Education Department executive director. “If you don’t access that money, it’s your loss.”

The state’s low completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid among high students places Colorado near the bottom in the nation — 47th overall — and well below the national average.

While other states show that sustained, comprehensive strategies can help students complete the complicated form and access thousands of dollars to further their education after high school, Colorado has mostly pieced together smaller initiatives. The state’s approach contrasts starkly with national leaders like Tennessee or Louisiana.

Advocates and college and state leaders agree Colorado needs to do more to help students complete the FAFSA that allows students the ability to pursue their college dreams through access to scholarships and federal grants.

Colorado faces many challenges in improving those numbers.


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Twitter: @ChalkbeatCO