Frequently Asked Questions for: College Opportunity Fund (COF)
- General Statement regarding COF
- Can I use COF at local district colleges or area vocational schools?
- Why are colleges and universities participating in COF?
- Why isn’t Aims Community College participating in COF?
- Does the state still subsidize the cost of my education at Aims?
- How will my decision to attend Aims affect my out-of-pocket cost?
- Will COF reduce my out-of-pocket college expenses?
- Will the cost of attending Aims remain competitive with COF participating colleges and universities?
- Will the COF stipend cover the total amount of in-state tuition?
- Will I need to apply for the COF stipend if I attend Aims Community College?
- Questions about COF and Aims?
General Statement regarding COFAn act of the Colorado State Legislature in May 2004 established a new way for the State to provide state tax dollar support for higher education at the undergraduate level. The state is no longer appropriating monies to institutions for undergraduate education, but providing direct funding to undergraduate students through the “College Opportunity Fund” or “COF.” This program is also known as “vouchers” or “stipends.” Starting in fall 2005, COF stipends will be applied to the university bills of in-state undergraduates.
Can I use COF at local district colleges or area vocational schools?No. Colorado’s area vocational colleges and local district colleges, including Aims Community College, have opted to continue to receive their state funding in a block grant lump sum instead of via COF. COF is merely a different way for the state to route the funding it has always given colleges and universities. Because money is not sent to individual students, students should focus on what their out-of-pocket, total-bottom-line cost will be for attending a particular college or university.
Why are colleges and universities participating in COF?Under COF, the 26 participating public colleges and universities will no longer be directly state funded, and can pursue enterprise status – which removes the restrictions the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) places on how much tuition and tax-generated revenue they are allowed to keep. Once they achieve enterprise status, COF participants are allowed to raise tuition. In addition, COF legislation will ultimately free them from a variety of state regulations.
Why isn’t Aims Community College participating in COF?Aims does not believe it is advantageous to our students or our institution to join the COF project without testing its merits and outcomes. Colorado is the first state in the nation to implement a higher education stipend system. Aims does value keeping its tuition affordable and maintaining the independent authority of its Board of Trustees.
Does the state still subsidize the cost of my education at Aims?Yes. The State of Colorado continues to subsidize the education of Coloradoans who attend Aims via a block grant lump sum payment. This has the effect of a “virtual stipend” for those who choose to attend Aims. (See the table following Question 9 for an estimate of your cost.)
How will my decision to attend Aims affect my out-of-pocket cost?Not at all. Our tuition without COF will continue to be cost-competitive. Aims already offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the state and will continue to do so.
Will COF reduce my out-of-pocket college expenses?Probably not. Pam Shockley-Zalabak, the chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs explained it best in a May 2004 article. “I’m concerned some of the students believe it is a $2,400 reduction in their bill,” she said. “In fact, the tuition they pay will be the same. It doesn’t make college less expensive; it is just a different funding mechanism.”
Will the cost of attending Aims remain competitive with COF participating colleges and universities?Yes. The taxpaying citizens of greater Weld County enable Aims to operate and keep its tuition at one of the lowest in the state. Because of an anticipated continuance of state subsidies, your Aims out-of-pocket costs continue to be competitive with out-of-pocket costs at Colorado’s COF participating institutions.
Will the COF stipend cover the total amount of in-state tuition?No. Students will continue to pay their share of the total tuition no matter where they attend. Previously the State of Colorado funded colleges and universities directly with a block grant lump sum payments based on enrollment. Now the state’s share will be distributed via the stipend. The following chart helps illustrate these total tuition costs for Colorado students including an estimate of state contributions and the student’s share of tuition (your out-of-pocket cost): Tuition Billing Example Using FY 2004-2005 Tuition Rates* (not including fees)
|Institution||Total In-State Tuition||Virtual Stipend**||Student's Share of Tuition|
Aims Community College
|Stipend***||Student's Share of Tuition***|
|University of Colorado-Boulder||$5,784||$2,400||$3,384|
|Colorado State University||$5,340||$2,400||$2,940|
|University of Northern Colorado||$5,250||$2,400||$2,850|
|Colorado Community Colleges||$4,404||$2,400||$2,004|