Last week, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released its master plan for 2012-17. We are very pleased that the key goals articulated in the plan align well with the Bell Policy Center's opportunity agenda, and we commend the commission on this important work.
Colorado's fiscal situation forces many hard choices, and there is no better example than our continuing struggle to pay for higher education – and to make college affordable for students and families.
We will see two illustrations of that this week. Tomorrow, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education will continue discussions of possible changes to the state's need-based financial aid program, and the governor will submit his budget request for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
At the most recent meeting of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the Bell Policy Center voiced strong concerns about Gov. John Hickenlooper's proposed $30 million in cuts to the state's need-based and work-study financial aid programs in his FY 2012-13 budget request. Such cuts could reduce post-secondary educational opportunity for many low- and middle-income Coloradans.
This bill represents a net opportunity gain for Colorado. It establishes an accountability mechanism within the state's higher education performance contracts that specifically addresses institutional commitment to, and support for, retention and success of low income and minority students.
The support services specified in the bill align with actions proven to succeed. Requiring institutions to provide these services could help these students stay in school and complete their degrees.