Behavioral Health Incentive

The Behavioral Health Incentive Program provides financial incentives to rural and low-income Colorado students to obtain a credential in certain behavioral health programs of study. Implemented by SB21-137, $9 million was dedicated for this effort from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The program covers an eligible student's in-state tuition in approved programs at Colorado institutions of higher education.

Program Fact Sheet


The Colorado Department of Higher Education approved $5 million in grants to five universities that will provide tuition to students pursuing select degrees and certificates in behavioral health. The state estimates the program will serve nearly 400 students in the first two years with the program lasting four years. 

The five awarded institutions and their eligible programs are:

  1. Colorado Mesa University
    • BSW in Social Work
    • MSW in Social Work
    • Professional Certification in Addiction Studies
  2. Colorado State University
    • M.A. in Addiction Counseling in Psychology
    • B.S. with a Concentration in Addiction Counseling
    • B.S. in Human Development & Family Studies with a Concentration in Intervention/Prevention
    • M.A. in Human Development & Family Studies/Marriage and Family Therapy
    • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • M.A. in Social Work
    • B.A. in Social Work
    • Joint Masters in Addiction Counseling in Psychology and Social Work
  3. University of Northern Colorado
    • M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • M.A. in Educational Psychology
    • M.A. in Foundations of Professional Psychology
    • M.A. in Marriage, Counseling, and Family Counseling/Therapy
  4. University of Denver
    • Master of Social Work
  5. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
    • Master of Social Work


Grantee resources, such as reporting guidelines and templates, outreach materials, and frequently asked questions will be available here. If you have any additional questions, please contact Jack Wolflink at


The second RFP period is now open and will close on Friday, January 27. The RFP will be made available through the ColoradoVSS portal as RFP 2023000180. Full instructions and support for the ColoradoVSS portal may be accessed here. Additionally, you may access the RFP application packet, the updated list of contingently-eligible programs, and the program's rural definitions guidance letter. Recipients will be notified on Friday, February 3.


BHI Application Packet 

Contingently-Eligible Programs List   Rural Definitions Guidance Letter

The Department encourages every institution with a behavioral health degree or certificate program to apply, as the aim is to distribute funds to all eligible programs. Grant guidelines are to provide full-ride, multi-year support to student recipients. Students are eligible if they are Pell-eligible, and we are particularly interested in students who are graduates of a rural high school or residents of a rural area. Service to rural communities and individuals is a funding priority. Finally, applicants may allocate up to 5% of their requested funds to support outreach and recruitment efforts targeting these programs.