Published: Oct. 17, 2022

In a statewide effort to reduce barriers to higher education, all 32 public universities in Colorado—including CU Boulder—and several private colleges will once again waive admissions application fees for state residents from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20. 

Now in its fifth year, Colorado Free Application Days is an initiative to inspire more Coloradans to pursue postsecondary education opportunities. During last year’s campaign, Colorado colleges received 62,679 applications, which was a 10% increase in overall applications over the previous year’s campaign. Students of color submitted half of the applications, and first-generation students submitted a third. These numbers imply that a free college application day may encourage students to explore more colleges.

“All Colorado residents are eligible. With college application fees no longer a barrier, you can apply to the dream Colorado college or university, so shoot for the stars,” said Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, in a public service message. 

Paccione also pointed out most state institutions offer application fee waivers year-round for financial hardship. 

College officials encourage Colorado high school students to prepare in advance for the free application days, noting that colleges will waive those application fees in bulk only on the “free app days.” This effort will cap off Colorado Applies Month, a five-week statewide campaign that guides 11th- and 12-grade students along the application process, as well as encourages students to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. 

Students can begin preparing their application before Colorado Free Application Days starts and hit submit during the Oct. 18–20 timeframe. Minimal steps are required for first-year and transfer students, and not all application materials are required when submitting an application during those three days. With affordability being an area of concern even before receiving an admission decision, getting some form of financial break is beneficial to all students and families when starting the college search.

Over the past several years, CU Boulder has introduced a series of affordability efforts, including the elimination of course and program fees, a four-year tuition guarantee for incoming undergraduates, automatic scholarships for qualified Colorado resident students, scholarships for academically qualified transfer students and grants for low-income students

Colorado has one of the most educated workforces in the country. However, according to the 2020 Legislative Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates, only 56% of Colorado’s 2018 high school graduates enrolled in a postsecondary institution in Colorado or another state during the fall semester following high school graduation.

To reverse that trend, the state’s higher education officials and campus leaders are calling on Coloradans to apply to a Colorado college during the Colorado Free Application Days to expand their opportunities when pursuing higher education.