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New Data: Colorado’s College Students Facing Mounting Affordability Crisis

Earlier today, Young Invincibles and Lumina Foundation released a new series of fact sheets highlighting the financial challenges facing Colorado college students as they struggle to afford a college education. By taking a hard, objective look at the affordability of Colorado universities and how the deck is stacked against students – especially non-traditional students – these fact sheets shed further light on the mounting obstacles facing Colorado students as they pursue their degrees.

Among the most troubling findings:

  • Out of the 300,000 college students in Colorado, 64,000 students experience housing insecurity – and no Colorado institution is affordable.

  • Only 8% of Colorado institutions are affordable for student parents

  • Only 8% of Colorado institutions are affordable for returning students

  • Only 12% of Colorado institutions are affordable for student workers

The fact sheets also identify the universities which are the most – and least – affordable for Colorado students. For instance:

  • Median Net Cost of a School in Colorado: $18,831 per year

  • Most Affordable Four-Year Public School: Colorado Mountain College – $3,297 per year

  • Least Affordable Four-Year Public School: Colorado School of Mines – $25,097 per year

  • Most Affordable Four-Year Private Non-Profit School: Johnson & Wales University-Denver – $23,675 per year

  • Least Affordable Four-Year Private Non-Profit School: University of Denver – $32,940 per year

Note that all prices are average net prices, meaning it’s the price students pay after grant aid is applied.

“This new analysis shows what we’ve been hearing from students across the Centennial State: college is beyond the reach of too many young people,” said Christina Postolowski, Rocky Mountain Regional Director. “The skyrocketing cost of college, the increasing need for a college degree to find a job that pays well, and decreasing public benefits has put Colorado’s young people behind the eight ball and policymakers need to step up. We know that a college degree is still the best path toward financial security but too many students, especially non-traditional students, are being left behind as college becomes even more unaffordable.”

These fact sheets were created in collaboration by Young Invincibles and Lumina Foundation. Lumina Foundation’s affordability benchmark, known as The Rule of 10, states that students should pay no more for college than 10% of their discretionary income for 10 years, and the earnings from working 10 hours a week while in school. Using the U.S. Census, the groups applied median incomes of different groups of students to test all of Colorado’s institutions’ net prices (cost of attendance minus grant aid, drawn from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems) on the Rule of 10 to determine if they are affordable.

You can read the fact sheets here.