Students saved more than $2.7 million in waived application fees
DENVER, CO – Dec. 22, 2022: Colorado students submitted nearly 64,000 college and university admissions applications during Colorado Free Application Days. The fifth annual statewide initiative took place from Tuesday, Oct. 18 through Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. The initiative increased participation from last year’s effort and saved students more than $2.7 million in waived fees. See the 2022 fact sheet.
Participating institutions received 63,976 applications in total, a 2% increase over last year’s campaign. Colorado State University in Fort Collins (CSU) led with 11,344 applications, followed by University of Colorado Boulder (10,481) and University of Colorado Colorado Springs (5,621).
“This program continues to bolster the number of applications that students submit to institutions year after year,” said Gov. Jared Polis, who announced Colorado Free Application Days in this video message. “Education is one of the pillars of society, especially when we think about creating a strong workforce, so we must continue to support all of our learners in their educational endeavors.”
By eliminating application fees, Colorado Free Application Days are designed to boost the state’s college-going rate and make progress toward the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s (CDHE) strategic goal to erase equity gaps—the racial disparities in higher education enrollment and graduation.
Nearly half of the applications (28,677) were submitted by students of color, and more than a third were submitted by first-generation students (21,457)—two target groups that have historically lower college enrollment rates in Colorado. When compared to the statewide attainment goal of 66%, the following racial and ethnic disparities exist: African American or Black – 41.3% attainment rate (a gap of 24.7%); American Indian or Alaska Native – 29.9% attainment rate (a gap of 36.1%) and Hispanic or Latinx – 29.9% attainment rate (a gap of 36.1.9%).
"To date, students have saved more than $10 million in application fees over the five-year course of this campaign," said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. "We want to thank our colleges and universities for putting students first and continuing to support this effort."
The state also tracks the number of applications submitted without SAT/ACT scores. Starting in 2021, Colorado state law stipulates that public four-year colleges and universities do not need to require SAT or ACT scores for the admission process. Of four-year college/university applications, 62% of applicants applied without test scores (6% increase from last year’s program). Further, 68% of first-generation students, 73% of Native American, 77% of African American or Black and 67% of Hispanic or Latinx applied without test scores on Free Application Days (65% of White students applied without test scores).
Among transfer students, Colorado State University was the most popular destination with 352 applications, and Metropolitan State University of Denver (284) and University of Colorado Boulder (212) came in second and third respectively.
Colorado Free Application Days caps off Colorado Applies Month, an annual statewide campaign coordinated by CDHE that encourages students to submit at least one postsecondary application and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA). Despite being one of the most educated states in the country, Colorado sent just 50.5% of Colorado high school graduates to a college, university or technical school in 2020.
This year’s Colorado Applies Month effort reached nearly 5,000 students from 53 schools and organizations, which hosted more than 22 college application and FAFSA/CASFA completion events statewide.
Comcast and Telemundo donated airtime and video production services to create 30-second public service announcements in English and Spanish, featuring Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE, and Dr. Roberto Montoya, chief educational equity officer, valued at $40,000. The spots aired in October on various cable channels for viewers in mountain communities, the Denver metropolitan area and Northern and Southern Colorado.
Most colleges offer application fee waivers year-round for families who are stretched financially. You can learn more about how to request fee waivers by visiting the CDHE website.
For more information on Colorado Applies Month and Colorado Free Application Days, visit https://cdhe.colorado.gov/cofreeappdays.