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In 2014, the Colorado legislature committed $34 million toward a new initiative to create a network of student support and scholarship programs throughout the state. By increasing student success and financial resources, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative set out to create greater postsecondary access, persistence and retention for Coloradans. The work of Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative is pursuant to HB 14-1384 and SB 20-006.
COSI addresses statewide postsecondary attainment in two ways:
- Accessibility (wrap-around support funding)
COSI funds programs that prepare students for postsecondary education and supports them through completion. 78% of program participants are students of color, and COSI Scholars persist at rates 15% points higher than peers of similar backgrounds.
- Affordability (scholarship funding)
COSI provides tuition support to students via matching funds for community scholarships, helping to keep down tuition costs and reducing student loan debt. 64% of COSI scholars are students of color, and three-quarters are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. These students outpace their non-COSI counterparts by 25%.
What Legislators need to know about COSI:
Since its inception, COSI has awarded $66.5 million (leveraging $35 million in additional local and private dollars) to serve more than 100,000 students. The program operates in 61 Colorado counties and all public institutions of higher education. COSI students persist at significantly high rates (87-89%), helping Colorado reach 66% statewide attainment by 2025.
- Download information specific to legislative regions here
- Learn more about the Back to Work - COSI's Displaced Workers grant program here and our supplemental request to expand the program
- Read COSI's strategic plan here
- Watch this video from COSI Students to Colorado Legislators
- Watch this COSI Overview video
This year, COSI will ask the legislature to consider two bills:
This bill proposal makes statutory changes to the composition of the COSI Advisory Board to include members of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education and students, alongside members of the Colorado Workforce Development Council.
Funding will be used to support over 3,150 workers who lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic to complete a new degree in a high-demand industry or complete an existing degree within two years to help them increase their earning potential. This program also supports current students who have lost their job due to the pandemic and are in jeopardy of dropping out for financial reasons.