Colorado is a state that’s serious about education. The state is full of top-notch colleges and universities offering flexible learning opportunities. And people are taking advantage of it!
According to census data, 40.9% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher; Colorado ranks #2 in the nation!
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The educational success in Colorado is due in large part to numerous organizations and programs put in place to support students, proving that the state places a high value on education.
Overview of Higher Education in Colorado
Colorado has 70 degree-granting institutions to choose from, according to a 2018-2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of the 70 schools, 28 are public, 14 are nonprofit, and 28 are for-profit.
Most of Colorado’s post-secondary schools are located in the center of the state – Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Denver. There are several large research universities, liberal arts colleges, and the United States Air Force Academy, one of the nation’s 5 military academies.
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The NCES reports that Colorado residents attending a 4-year institution will pay an average of $9,394 in tuition and fees. Out-of-state students will pay $30,140. Those in nearby western states may pay a little less, though, thanks to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
WICHE is a collaborative organization that allows students to enroll at programs in any of the 16 participating states and territories for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
About Online Colleges in Colorado
Colorado supports online learning starting at a young age, and groups like the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families have developed to promote and support the use of online platforms for students in grades K-12.
At the college level, Colorado Distance Learning Association (ColoDLA) is Colorado’s primary advocate, providing resources and opportunities to connect with the larger community. According to the NCES, 23% of higher education students in Colorado are enrolled in exclusively online programs. An additional 12.9% are enrolled in a hybrid program including both online and on-campus classes.
Online college students may be especially impressed with Colorado State University – Global Campus, as it was the nation’s first independent, accredited, fully online state university! CSU-Global Campus offers more than 40 online degree and certification programs and utilizes a rare 8-week accelerated format to help students complete their degree programs quickly.
At Regis University, a Jesuit College in Denver, students can choose from more than 130 online degrees and programs. The school offers both fully online and hybrid formats.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Colorado
If you need financial aid to attend college in Colorado, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can give you access to federal, state, and private funds. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 of each year and should be completed as soon as possible, since aid is awarded on a first, come first-served basis.
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To complete the application, you will need to include financial information for both you and your parents (unless you’re considered an “independent” by FAFSA’s standards). The data you submit will help determine how much and what kind of financial aid you will be offered. The ideal types of financial aid are grants and scholarships because they do not have to be paid back.
In addition to federal grants, students in Colorado have exclusive access to the following grant programs:
- Colorado Student Grant: Up to $5000 per year; Need-based
- Colorado College Responsibility Grant (CCRG): $200-600 per semester; Need-based; Find info through schools that offer it
- Dependents Tuition Assistance Program: Funds to cover tuition, room and board; Need-based; For dependents of police officers, firefighters and/or National Guard personnel killed or disabled in the line of duty
- College Opportunity Fund: A set dollar amount per credit hour at public and private colleges, amount varies annually; Need-based; Must attend a participating school and meet eligibility requirements
You can find more free money for college by using scholarship search sites such as Fastweb.com. By entering basic information about where you live or what you plan to study, you will discover all types of scholarship opportunities!
Here are just a few of the scholarships open to Colorado residents:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|Alice Hamilton Scholarship||$200-1000|
|Boundless Opportunity Scholarship||Varies|
|CollegeInvest 529 Scholarship||$2000|
|Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarship||(8) $1,000|
|The Dottie-Walker Scholarship||$1000|
Scholarships and grants are also offered through the institutions themselves and may be need-based or merit-based. Be sure to check with the financial aid office at the school(s) you’re considering to see what might be available to you.
List of Online Colleges in Colorado
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Adams State University’s online program offers a wide range of degrees and professional development courses for students who need flexibility in their college education. Classes are currently offered in a 16 week format. Students may earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in fields like business and music education.
ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Arapahoe Community College strives to provide a solid education in a small, welcoming environment. The college offers over 200 courses online, some in conjunction with Colorado Community College Online. Students may pursue professional certificates or associate or bachelor’s degrees. Fields of study offered include computer graphics, political science, Spanish, and emergency service administration.
Arapahoe Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Christian University has received several awards and accolades for the high quality of education it provides. The school aims to prepare students to lead and grow in their faith. CCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies offers degree programs to fit into the schedules of busy adults. Most programs are entirely online. Fields of study offered include biblical studies and computer science.
Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Mesa University strives to create an online community of learners where students and professors can make meaningful connections, even in a virtual environment. CMU offers online and hybrid programs. Hybrid programs require 25% to 75% of the coursework to be on campus. The school offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in fields like nursing and sport management.
Colorado Mesa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Mountain College aims to provide students with hands-on learning and field training to prepare them for future careers. While CMC doesn’t currently offer any fully online programs, many degrees are partially online. Possible fields of study include business administration and culinary arts.
Colorado Mountain College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online students at Colorado State University can earn the same degrees as on-campus students and get the same quality education. Both in-state and out-of-state online students pay the same tuition. The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs, with some degrees completely online and others in a hybrid format. Degrees are offered in economics, social work, engineering, and more.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Technical University was named one of the best online programs for bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News & World Report. Its goal is to give students an affordable education. Students can earn associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in online or hybrid formats. Programs are offered in marketing, computer science, executive leadership, and more.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Community College of Denver’s online students are provided with the same faculty and curriculum as their on-campus counterparts. Many programs are fully online. Hybrid courses are 30 to 90% online. Students typically have to log on 4 to 5 days each week for online courses. Students can earn associate degrees or certificates in fields like accounting and music.
CCD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Front Range Community College is dedicated to helping nontraditional students get the qualifications needed to move forward in their careers or pursue further degrees. The school offers associate degrees and professional certificates. The programs are either entirely or 80% or more online. Students can choose from many fields of study, including retail management and chemistry.
FRCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Metropolitan State University of Denver aims to give students a quality education at an affordable price. First-year MSU Denver students may be able to get up to $1000 in scholarship money. Programs are either fully online or in a hybrid format. Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in fields like social work, banking, and English.
MSU Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Nazarene Bible College has been offering online courses since 1998, making it the first Nazarene college with online programs. The school has a 97% completion rate. NBC students can earn associate or bachelor’s degrees online. Fields of study include bible and theology, Christian educational ministries, Hispanic pastoral ministries, and leadership and ethics.
Nazarene Bible College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Pikes Peak Community College’s goal is to make college a possibility for all students, even those who think they don’t have the time or finances. The school strives to work with students to make it possible. Students can choose between online, hybrid, or hyflex programs. The school offers associate and certificates in fields like anthropology and journalism.
Pikes Peak Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Regis University is a Jesuit Catholic university, and it encourages its students to grow in their faith along with their academics. Regis offers undergraduate and graduate certificates and master’s and doctorate degrees that can be earned online. It provides programs in a variety of fields, including occupational therapy, full stack, enterprise engineering, creative writing, and craft brewing.
Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers degrees for students who want to go into artistic and creative fields. The professors at RMCAD are professionals in their fields. Students can earn a variety of bachelor’s degrees through RMCAD’s online program. Fields of study include animation, art education, fashion design, music production, and graphic design.
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Colorado—Boulder encourages students to forge their own paths and grow to their true potential. CU Boulder offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates in a limited number of fields. Programs are offered in computer science, corporate communication, journalism, entrepreneurship, outdoor recreation economy, and data science.
The University of Colorado – Boulder is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Colorado—Colorado Springs has offered online courses since the 1990s. Its goal is to deliver quality online education to students in Colorado and around the world. UCCS Connect offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certificates. Fields of study offered include business, criminal justice, engineering, health care sciences, and public administration.
UCCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Colorado—Denver’s online programs are designed to help students achieve their career goals, even while working or having other commitments outside school.
The online school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It also offers certificates and other professional development programs. Fields of study offered include aerospace engineering, sport management, cannabis science, and supply chain analytics.
UC Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Denver aspires to develop the whole student, not just the academic side. U.S. News and World Report has highly ranked many of DU’s online programs. DU students can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees or career-advancing professional certificates. Fields of study offered include environmental policy and management and professional creative writing.
The University of Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Northern Colorado gives students the chance to learn from professors who are active in their fields. Online students can receive the same quality education as their on-campus counterparts. UNC offers many online degree programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Students can earn degrees in fields like ASL teaching, animal audiology, brewing and laboratory science, and dance.
The University of Northern Colorado is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Western Colorado University is dedicated to giving students a diverse, hands-on education that prepares them for their future careers. The school offers a limited number of master’s degree programs, including an online MA in Education program. Students can also take accelerated bachelor’s plus master’s programs, which are partially online. WCU offers professional certificates that can be earned online too.
Western Colorado University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
It’s no wonder Colorado ranks #2 in postsecondary degree attainment. With so many schools to choose from and plenty of financial aid and scholarships available, attending college in Colorado is an excellent choice!