College costs lower in Colorado - Adams State one of most affordable

(01-12-2009)

In contrast to the national trend of rising college tuition, public higher education in Colorado is almost 20 percent lower, on average, than in other states, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education's recent annual report on tuition and fees.

"Adams State College continues as one of the most affordable four-year institutions in Colorado. This is key to our mission of providing access to higher education in the poorest and least populated area of Colorado," said Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi. "A third of our students are the first generation in their families to attend college. Among Hispanic students, which comprise 30 percent of our student body, it's more than 47 percent."

The state report is at odds with a recent report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Measuring Up 2008, which gave Colorado and 48 other states an "F" in affordability. The Department's report shows that Colorado's institutions, with a few exceptions, cost less than their national peers and that the relationship between the cost of Colorado colleges and median state income has grown only slightly since 1997.

On average, Colorado's public, four-year colleges (including Adams State) charge 35% less, community colleges 16% less, and higher education research institutions 9% less than their national peers. The Department's report also shows that the relationship between the cost of Colorado colleges and median state income has grown only slightly since 1997.

Adams State posted the second lowest tuition increase among Colorado public four-year institutions over the last decade and in the last year, Svaldi noted.

According to the DHE's report, students statewide whose families earn under $20,000 a year receive 51% of their college costs from direct aid; those from families earning between $20,000 and $40,000 receive 40 percent. This is an increase from 2004 of 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively. What's more, the expectation of family contribution toward college costs for this group has not increased since 2004.

The average family income of Adams State students who applied for financial aid last year was just over $24,000. About 90 percent of Adams State students qualify for some type of financial aid, with 58 percent eligible for the Pell grant -- one of the highest percentages in the state, according to Phil Schroeder, Adams State director of financial aid.

"We have assisted many families affected by the recent financial crisis, whether that be due to loss of employment or a change in income or family size," Schroeder added.

View the DHE's FY08-09 Tuition and Fee Report.

By Julie Waechter