CU-led legislation aims to improve college affordability

New bill proposes state incentives for qualifying students
By Staff

A newly introduced, CU-led bill at the Capitol aims to make college more affordable for Colorado students through different incentives.

As proposed, House Bill 24-1340 creates a student incentive tied to the top jobs identified as in- demand jobs by the state of Colorado and creates a framework for an incentive around rewarding student transfer of college credit from Colorado high schools or public two-year institutions to Colorado four-year intuitions.

The bill creates two separate incentives. The first incentive is available to a graduate of any Colorado institution of higher education with a credential required or supported by certain jobs identified by the 2023 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report, defined by the bill as "top jobs." The incentive would be $250 for the completion of a certificate less than one year in duration, $500 for the completion of a certificate taking between one year and two years, $1,500 for graduates of an associate’s degree program, and $3,000 for graduates of a bachelor’s degree program. This incentive would apply to income tax years 2024 through 2030.

The second incentive would be available to Colorado students who transfer college credit earned from a Colorado high school or a public two-year institution to an eligible four-year institution, after accumulating 15 credit hours at the four-year institution. The incentive is $50 per credit hour, and assuming  a student transferred 60 credit hours would result in $3,000. This incentive would apply to income tax years 2026 through 2030. The incentives for transfer component has a two-year delayed implementation start date to give higher education institutions time to work with the Department of Higher Education on the data validation necessary for the transfer incentive.

To protect the state’s budget, the incentives are dependent on available state revenues. The incentive is fully available in any year in which there is a TABOR surplus of $750 million or greater. It would be reduced by 50% if the forecast is between $750 million and $500 million, and is not in place if revenue is below $500 million.

Lawmakers have begun considering the bipartisan bill, which was introduced Monday, assigned to the House Education Committee, and is sponsored by Reps. Shannon Bird and Rick Taggart, and by Sens. Barbara Kirkmeyer and Rachel Zenzinger.