CU pursuing legislation aimed at attracting state’s best students

Proposal would boost revenue to be used for merit scholarships

The University of Colorado is pursuing new state legislation aimed at growing revenue to support merit scholarships for the top in-state students – those who might otherwise be lured elsewhere by better offers.

House Bill 1320 – sponsored by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, and Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder – was passed unanimously by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, a day after being introduced. Wednesday's hearing featured testimony from CU system representatives.

The bill now moves to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

The bill looks to change how the allowable ratio of resident students to nonresident students is calculated at state institutions of higher education. The bill allows an institution to count a student who is admitted as a Colorado scholar as two in-state students for purposes of calculating the ratio.

With resulting room for more nonresident students, the additional revenue from that tuition stream would fund merit scholarships for the state’s top students. Campus leadership has said that CU often loses Colorado’s best college prospects to out-of-state institutions offering richer scholarship packages.

“This bill rewards success,” Waller said. “It creates an opportunity for more Colorado students to go to a state-supported college or university on a scholarship they’ve earned through their own hard work.”

The state budget for the coming year had originally contained $3 million for such merit scholarships, but the item was pulled after lawmakers argued over whether undocumented students would be eligible for such grants.

“This bill is simply about keeping our best and brightest in Colorado, because they will be entering our workforce and will contribute to our state’s economic development and general well-being,” Waller said.

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