Polis Pushes Coloradans To Choose College For The Sake Of The State

Brennan Linsley/AP Photo
Students earning graduate degrees from Denver University wear caps and gowns as they arrive for their commencement ceremony, June 7, 2013.

In Colorado, the average student loan debt for a bachelor’s degree in 2018 was $25,500, according to the state.

But Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Higher Education want Coloradans to know that higher education is worth the cost. 

“We know that when Coloradans have access to affordable education they thrive, and those benefits lead to great economic growth for our state,” Polis said in a press conference. “More educated workers leads to healthier lives, lower health care costs, more resiliency during economic downturns, and of course, lower likelihood of requiring or needing to receive unemployment insurance.”

On Tuesday, the Department of Higher Education released a report summarizing the benefits of higher education and programs to help students during their education, including concurrent enrollment and access to open education resources. Polis said the report shows lawmakers that paying for higher education is a good investment for families and the economy. 

The report is the first of its kind and was required by a 2018 bill. It gives information on the return on investment for various degrees, which is meant to steer students toward higher paying jobs that would allow them to pay off their student loan debt. 

Last year, the Department of Higher Education released Colorado Rises, a master plan to increase educational attainment in the state by 10 percent. The plan has four strategic goals: increase credential completion, erase equity gaps, improve student success and invest in affordability and innovation. 

Colorado ranks 47th in the country for state higher education funding. Students pay about two-thirds the cost of education, double what they were responsible for in 2000. Last year, the state secured a 12 percent boost. Over the last five years, Colorado has increased funding by 39 percent, according to the State Higher Education Finance report.

“We were most proud to announce a budget that invested a historic $121 million in higher education, but we have a lot further to go,” Polis said. “We need a greater emphasis on not just getting into school, but also getting out of school with a certificate, associate degree or full four-year degree.”