Published: Jan. 9, 2005

The University of Colorado is preparing to implement the College Opportunity Fund in fall 2005 and has begun notifying students about the program at campuses in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.

The College Opportunity Fund, or COF, is a statewide program required under Senate Bill 04-189 that establishes a new way for Colorado to provide tax support for higher education at the undergraduate level. With implementation of COF, Colorado will no longer appropriate money to colleges and universities for undergraduate education but will provide funding for undergraduates through COF.

The program also is known as "vouchers" or "stipends."

CU continuing students should apply to COF before April, prior to the beginning of fall 2005 registration, by going online at The process is easy and takes less than 3 minutes to complete.

Starting in fall 2005, provided that an undergraduate in-state student applies for and authorizes use of the voucher, COF vouchers will be applied to the student's university bill. While the student's required financial contribution will not decrease as a result of the program, the student will be able to see the state's investment in his or her education on the university bill.

Preparation for implementation of COF has been taking place at CU since last April. CU-Boulder and CU-Denver distributed information on COF in December tuition mailings to currently enrolled students. The Colorado Springs campus will begin undergraduate tuition mailings including COF information in early February.

Each of the three campuses also sent student e-memos on the program, which were issued Nov. 8-9. CU will continue its outreach effort to get continuing and new CU students to apply to the College Opportunity Fund throughout the spring and summer.

CU also is making required changes to its student information system to track COF hours and is modifying registration, billing and financial aid processes and programs in preparation for fall 2005 implementation. Staff training in key business offices will begin in spring 2005, before students begin registering for the fall 2005 term.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education and College Access Network are providing policy guidelines and technical specifications on COF.

For more information about the College Opportunity Fund and CU's implementation of the program, visit these "frequently asked questions" Web sites:



Colorado Springs:

UCDHSC Health Sciences programs:

College Access Network:

College Opportunity Fund

Five common misperceptions

1. The stipend/voucher is set at $2,400.

Actually, the stipend is a per credit hour amount that has not yet been determined by the legislature. The $2,400 amount was an example generated during early debate on the program. That amount assumes that the credit hour stipend will be $80 and that the student will be enrolled in 15 credits, for 2 semesters ($80 x 15 x 2 = $2400).

2. The voucher will come in the form of a check to the student.

No student will be mailed a check. Instead, the voucher amount - based on the legislature's funding decision and the number of credit hours a student takes - will be sent directly to the college or university the student is attending. The student must authorize use of the voucher each term.

3. The voucher will lower the amount of tuition students are currently paying.

The voucher is actually the state support students have always received. That support has always been part of a student's tuition amount, but it has never been reflected on students' overall tuition bills. Instead, institutions have only shown the student portion of tuition on the bill. Now, colleges and universities are required to show total tuition cost on a student's tuition bill and then to reduce the total tuition by the COF amount when a student authorizes use of COF to pay tuition.

4. The stipend applies to all undergraduate students.

Only Colorado resident undergraduate students are eligible for the stipend but not every undergraduate is eligible. Some undergraduate students in certain areas of study will not be eligible. They will receive state support as they have in the past through block grant funding to their chosen institution. (Example: undergraduate resident students in the Nursing program at UCDHSC.)

5. Students automatically get their stipend when they enroll in a Colorado college or university.

Students must proactively sign up for the College Opportunity Fund. Any Coloradan age 13 and older can sign up for the program through the College Access Network site at

College Opportunity Fund Voucher Program

Fact Sheet, University of Colorado

When does the voucher program begin? Eligible undergraduates attending the fall 2005 semester will be the first program recipients. The voucher program will not apply to the spring 2005 or summer 2005 terms.

Who is eligible? In-state undergraduate students will be eligible for vouchers. Degree-seeking, non-degree, and teacher licensure students classified as undergraduates will be eligible. Age, income, and financial aid eligibility are irrelevant - students of all ages, all incomes, and all aid statuses will be eligible.

Who is not eligible? What courses are not eligible? See the web site referenced below for these details.

Do students need to apply for the voucher program? Yes. Each student is required to apply for the College Opportunity Fund voucher program through the College Access Network web site. This application needs to be completed only once in the student's lifetime. The link to the College Access Network (CAN) application is:

What happens if the student doesn't apply for the voucher program ? If the student does not apply for the voucher program, he/she will be responsible for paying the full tuition, including the portion that would have been covered by the College Opportunity Fund.

Does the student have to qualify for financial aid in order to apply to COF and get a COF voucher ? Not for CU. COF is totally separate from financial aid for students attending public institutions in Colorado.

How will the amount of the voucher be calculated? The voucher amount will be calculated based on the number of eligible credit hours the student registers for each term. The amount of money per credit hour has yet to be determined by the State of Colorado. This amount may differ each year. It will be determined by the state legislature in spring 2005 for the coming academic year. The amount of the voucher per credit hour will be the same at all Colorado public institutions, including community colleges.

Will the student receive a check? No. Upon the student's authorization the voucher amount will be sent by the state on his/her behalf directly to the institution the student chooses to attend. The voucher amount will be applied directly to the total tuition charge on the student's university account. The voucher amount will not be mailed to the student's home or transferred to the student's bank account. CU will include the authorization of voucher funds as part of the registration process each term.

Will the voucher cover the total amount of in-state tuition? No. The student's share of the cost for undergraduate education is not expected to decrease from today's current rates. The student can expect that both tuition rates and COF stipend values may change from year to year. Do not assume that the total tuition amount (including a COF portion) for 2005-06 will be the same as 2004-05 tuition, which does not include COF. For most institutions, the 2005-06 total tuition listed on the bill will exceed 2004-05 tuition.

Is the student eligible for vouchers for as long as he/she is an undergraduate in Colorado? No. COF vouchers will be capped at 145 cumulative attempted semester credit hours, with some exceptions. See the web site referenced below for more details.

Where can I go for additional information?

A larger list of frequently asked questions is available on the following CU campus web sites. Data are updated as details of the COF program are determined by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) and the College Access Network.



Colorado Springs:

UCDHSC Health Sciences programs:

College Access Network:

Be advised that the various Q&A's posted do not all agree because implementation details are still in process. Address any further questions to the College Access Network at

All information in this posting is preliminary pending CCHE implementation of COF. Others are welcome to use any or all of the questions and answers shown here and need not request permission to do so.