Students Saved More Than $2.5 Million in Waived Application Fees
Colorado students submitted nearly 63,000 college and university admissions applications during Colorado Free Application Days. The fourth annual statewide initiative grew from one day to three days and took place from Tuesday, October 19 through Thursday, October 21, 2021. The initiative increased participation from last year’s effort and saved students more than $2.5 million in waived fees.
Participating institutions received 62,679 applications in total, a 10% increase over last year’s campaign. Colorado State University in Fort Collins (CSU) led with 10,824 applications, followed by CU Boulder (10,272) and Metropolitan State University of Denver (5,312).
“It’s exciting to see this program continue to grow and expand each year, saving students even more money,” said Gov. Jared Polis, who announced Colorado Free Application Days. “As we continue to recover from the pandemic, and prepare for the jobs of the future, we need to ensure our students have the education and skills that make them workforce-ready.”
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 educational enrollment and graduation.
Nearly half of the applications (28,201) were submitted by students of color, and more than a third were submitted by first-generation students (23,487)—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 – 37.9% attainment rate (a gap of 28.1%); American Indian – 30.9% attainment rate (a gap of 35.1%) and Hispanic or Latinx – 25.1% attainment rate (a gap of 40.9%).
“To date, students have saved more than $8.4 million in application fees over the four-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 May 25, 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 colleges/university applications, 56% of applicants applied without test scores. Further, 64% of first-generation students, 66% of Native American, 67% of African American or Black and 62% of Hispanic or Latinx applied without test scores on Free Application Days.
Among transfer students, Metropolitan State University of Denver was the most popular destination with 404 applications, and Colorado State University (321) and University of Colorado Denver (257) 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 56% of Colorado high school graduates to a college, university, or technical school in 2019.
This year’s Colorado Applies Month effort reached more than 2,500 students from 37 schools and organizations, which hosted more than 45 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 Gov. Polis, valued at $200,000. The spots aired in October on various cable channels for viewers in mountain communities, the Denver metropolitan area, and Northern and Southern Colorado.