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CC Launches Three Initiatives Aimed at Increasing Access to College

Colorado College launched three initiatives during the 2019 Fall Semester in its continuing effort to diversify the student body, address affordability concerns, and increase access for those historically excluded from higher education.

  • CC’s Colorado Pledge is a pilot program designed to ensure Colorado College is as affordable for Colorado students from low- and middle-income families as the state’s flagship public university.
  • Colorado College also adopted a test-optional admission policy, in which applicants can choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, as part of their admission application.
  • The Stroud Scholars program is a three-year program aimed at providing a pathway to college for high-promise students from communities historically excluded from higher education. Students successfully completing the three-year college preparatory program will earn admission to Colorado College and receive a financial aid package that will enable them to attend.

Together, these initiatives help diversity the student body and increase access to a Colorado College education.

The Colorado Pledge is a financial aid initiative aimed at supporting Colorado families with adjusted gross incomes below $200,000. “Colorado College is one of only a handful of colleges in the nation to consistently meet the full demonstrated need of every admitted student,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “The Colorado Pledge goes one step further and is a bold initiative aimed at making a private education as affordable, or more affordable, than many public universities.”

All students admitted to the next fall’s incoming class and transfer students who meet the eligibility criteria will receive this award. The college is raising $20 million specifically to support the Colorado Pledge and already has received nearly $5 million from donors, including a gift from Board of Trustees Chair Susie Burghart ’77 that has been issued as a challenge to other donors to match their own contributions of $50,000 or more to the Colorado Pledge.

Additionally, between Nov. 1-15 matching funds from “Susie B’s Challenge” will be available for gifts of any amount. Thus, a gift of $25 toward the Colorado Pledge will have an impact of $50.

Colorado College’s pledge states that:

  • For students from Colorado families with an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000, there will be no parental contribution for tuition, room, and board at CC.
  • For students from Colorado families with an adjusted gross income between $60,000 and $125,000, there will be no parental contribution for tuition at CC.
  • For students from Colorado families with an adjusted gross income between $125,000 and $200,000, CC pledges that the parental contribution for a Colorado College education will be the same or less than the cost of attendance at the flagship state university in Colorado.

The change in the test-optional admission policy aligns with CC’s admission philosophy of holistic review, where students are valued as more than “a number” and students’ strengths beyond their test scores are considered.

The change also supports the college’s strategic plan on increasing access as research shows that 78% of affluent teens engage in test prep and the majority sit for tests multiple times. Only 8% of students from low-income backgrounds do test prep and these teens don’t take tests as many times their affluent peers.

“Standardized test scores do not always reflect the academic potential of students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Colorado College Assistant Professor of Psychology Kevin Holmes, who served on the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid. “The new test-optional policy removes a barrier to admission for these students.” The change will begin with first-year and transfer students applying for entry in Fall 2020.

The Stroud Scholars program is named after two of CC’s earliest African-American graduates, Kelly Dolphus Stroud ’31 and Effie Stroud Frazier ’31, who came to CC with help from the Sachs Foundation and are featured in CC’s Untold Stories series.

Stroud Scholars prepares students for selective college environments by working directly with high promise youth to provide academic preparation, mentorship, and guidance navigating admissions and financial aid processes to CC and beyond. 

“An outstanding college education should be within reach for highly talented students in our own backyard who simply need opportunity and support,” says President Tiefenthaler.

The program offers a developmental pathway beginning the summer after a student’s first year of high school and ending with a successful transition into Colorado College or another intentionally chosen college or university. For three summers, at no cost to the youth or their families, Colorado College will host youth on campus for three weeks where participants will focus on cultivating quantitative reasoning and writing skills.  Participants also will engage in programming designed to help them prepare practically for the college admissions and financial aid processes.

Application information for Stroud Scholars will be available beginning Nov. 15, and will be accepted through Feb. 15, 2020. The program will launch in July 2020 with a class of 25 students from the Pikes Peak Region.