Complete or Correct Your 2024-25 FAFSA/ CASFA Today!


More students of color participate in Colorado’s dual enrollment programs

Hide Featured Image

DENVER, CO, July 19, 2021 - More than 53,000 students took at least one dual enrollment course during the 2019-20 academic year, according to a report released jointly today by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE). This was an increase of nearly 2,900 students from 2018-19, or a 5.6% jump in dual enrollment participation overall.

"Colorado's students deserve the opportunity to explore new subjects and expand their educational aspirations," said Governor Jared Polis. "By having the chance to take college courses early in their academic journey and gain credit and sometimes even an associate degree when they finish high school, concurrent enrollment allows students to get ahead while also lowering the costs of higher education. Here in Colorado, we want to make access to higher education possible for every student. Concurrent enrollment does just that, making a college education more attainable and affordable."

Often tuition-free, dual enrollment programs provide high school students with the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses and earn high school and college credit. Colorado's Concurrent Enrollment (CE) program, established by the state Legislature in 2009, is still the most popular choice among dual enrollment programs for the fifth year in a row. Nearly 40% of Colorado high school graduates participate in some type of dual enrollment experience. Concurrent Enrollment continues to see sustained growth with an annual growth rate of 16% in 2019-20. Statewide, 175 school districts—or 98%—and 91% of high schools offer Concurrent Enrollment programs.

"These programs are key to reducing postsecondary costs and time-to-degree," said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director, CDHE. "By taking college classes in high school, concurrent enrollment can boost students' confidence in their ability to attend college, help them gain valuable experience and increase workforce earnings after several years."

More students of color took advantage of CE classes in the 2019-20 academic year. CE participation grew by 32.9% among Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students, 27% among Asian students, 23.3% among African American or Black students, 19.9% among students identifying as two or more races, 18.4% among Hispanic or Latinx students, and 15.8% among American Indian or Alaska Native students.

"I'm so pleased to see more and more students taking college courses while they are still in high school, and I want to acknowledge all the hard work our school districts and educators have done to increase these opportunities for our students," said Katy Anthes, commissioner of education. "These opportunities can increase the relevancy of high school and open a wide variety of options after high school, including pathways to meaningful careers and college."

Key findings from academic year 2019-20

  • Statewide, 53,245 students participated in dual enrollment programs of any types in the 2019-2020 Academic Year.  This represents nearly 40% of all high school graduates in public high schools in Colorado.
  • Concurrent Enrollment continues to see sustained increases in participation, more than 16% statewide with 40,098 students participating in 2019-20.
  • In 2019-20, high school students attempted 340,181 Concurrent Enrollment credit hours and nearly 93% of all hours were passed.
  • From 2018-19 to 2019-20, participation in Concurrent Enrollment increased:
    • 32.9% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students
    • 27%, Asian students
    • 23.3% African American or Black students
    • 19.9% students identifying as two or more races
    • 18.6% White students
    • 18.4% Hispanic or Latinx students
    • 15.8% American Indian or Alaska Native students

  • Nearly 40% of students who participated in ASCENT in 2019-2020 were Hispanic or Latinx, a group that is historically underrepresented in postsecondary education.
  • In 2019-20, 2,877 high school students earned some type of postsecondary credential after participating in Concurrent Enrollment or ASCENT programs.
  • Statewide, 175 school districts (98%) offer Concurrent Enrollment programs.

This report was prepared by the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education and was submitted to the Education Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives pursuant to 22-35-112 C.R.S. Read the complete reportStudents and families can access concurrent enrollment resources here:

*In this report, "dual enrollment" refers to the broad array of programs available to high school students that allow them to take college-level courses for free. "Concurrent Enrollment" refers only to statewide programs created by House Bill 09-1319 and detailed in the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act (C.R.S. 22-35-101 et seq.)