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In exchange for offering financial aid to more in-state students, Colorado universities soon could be allowed to admit more students from out of state who pay almost twice as much in tuition.
Universities such as the University of Colorado Boulder have been allowed to admit two out-of-state students for every student they admit who participates in the Colorado Scholars Program. The number of students who can be double-counted has been capped under current law to 8% of in-state students in the incoming freshman class.
House Bill 96, which is close to becoming law, would raise that cap to 15% of in-state freshmen in the program. That higher cap would create an incentive to enroll more Colorado Scholars, who can get $2,500 a year or more in merit aid, so that universities can also enroll more high-paying, out-of-state students.
State officials and others want Colorado colleges and universities to benefit Colorado students as much as possible, since they get taxpayer support. But lawmakers have cut state funding for schools over the years while allowing tuition hikes. That has led schools to look toward out-of-state students to bring in more revenue.
At the same time, the rising tuition has made some students rethink whether universities, especially the state’s flagship, are worth the financial burden, or if they can find a better deal elsewhere.
The bill would likely have the biggest impact on the University of Colorado Boulder, which backs the proposal. State law requires that an average of no more than 45% of incoming freshmen at public universities come from out of state, and CU Boulder is near that limit.