From Fort Collins to the state capital of Denver, Colorado is home to a variety of colleges. Public universities, private colleges, community colleges, seminary schools, a military academy and popular online programs are just a few of the state’s higher education options. Having so many colleges and universities improves Colorado students’ chances of finding one that fits their needs, but sorting through them can be a tricky endeavor. This guide features rankings of the top Colorado colleges, a search tool and other important factors one can use to evaluate schools and plan for college.

Ranking Colorado’s Best Colleges for 2017

Colorado Colorado

Finding the right college calls for careful research and consideration of one’s needs. No single Colorado college is perfect for every student; however, our rankings show which Colorado colleges possess the best overall educational quality and value for students based on factors such as alumni earnings, tuition, student-to-teacher ratio and graduation rate. Learn which colleges in Colorado are leading the way in the rankings below.

Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
Aims Community College
99.82
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$31,700
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
22%
29% N/A 2 77 No Yes
2
Colorado Northwestern Community College
99.39
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,300
12:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
62%
33% N/A 3 31 No Yes
3
Trinidad State Junior College
99.27
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$25,000
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
44%
39% N/A 1 71 Yes Yes
4
Front Range Community College
99.18
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,400
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
18% N/A 6 70 Yes Yes
5
Red Rocks Community College
98.43
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,600
21:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
4%
21% N/A 0 111 Yes Yes
6
Arapahoe Community College
98.29
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,200
24:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
10%
18% N/A 8 68 Yes Yes
7
Morgan Community College
98.08
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,600
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
15%
34% N/A 4 35 Yes Yes
8
Lamar Community College
97.96
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,600
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
62%
28% N/A 5 25 Yes Yes
9
Otero Junior College
97.91
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$28,900
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
68%
30% N/A 3 35 No No
10
Pueblo Community College
97.91
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$26,900
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
6%
24% N/A 1 97 Yes Yes
11
Pikes Peak Community College
97.72
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$29,900
23:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
1%
14% N/A 6 92 Yes Yes
12
Pickens Technical College
97.21
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$19,100
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
4%
78% N/A 0 32 Yes Yes
13
Community College of Denver
96.99
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$27,900
25:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
9%
10% N/A 3 51 Yes Yes
14
Northeastern Junior College
87.88
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,200
20:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
32%
36% N/A 7 39 No Yes
15
Community College of Aurora
86.00
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$32,000
21:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
3%
20% N/A 12 41 No Yes
Rank School Name Score Tuition Fees Alumni Earnings Student/Teacher Ratio Gift Financial AidGraduation Rate Acceptance Rate # Online Programs # Total Programs Placement Services Credit for Experience
1
University of Denver
99.83
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$51,400
11:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
81%
76% 76% 14 153 Yes No
2
Regis University
98.22
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$53,100
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
95%
59% 96% 37 64 No Yes
3
Colorado School of Mines
97.36
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$74,700
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
76%
67% 36% 0 43 Yes No
4
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
97.05
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,200
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
28%
47% 92% 11 49 Yes Yes
5
Colorado College
97.00
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$41,100
10:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
47%
90% 18% 0 50 Yes No
6
Colorado Christian University
96.82
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$40,500
14:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
40% 94% 16 41 Yes Yes
7
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
96.67
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$44,300
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
48%
63% 80% 21 135 Yes No
8
University of Colorado Denver
96.33
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$73,800
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
48%
45% 73% 18 92 Yes No
9
University of Colorado Boulder
96.20
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$48,000
18:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
45%
68% 84% 4 132 Yes No
10
University of Northern Colorado
95.82
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$39,000
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
79%
45% 71% 21 78 Yes No
11
United States Air Force Academy
95.47
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
N/A
8:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
N/A
80% 17% 0 37 Yes No
12
Western State Colorado University
93.48
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,500
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
66%
37% 97% 1 24 Yes No
13
Johnson & Wales University-Denver
93.48
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$35,100
17:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
97%
51% 82% 1 12 Yes Yes
14
Adams State University
93.30
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$33,200
15:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
70%
25% 65% 12 29 Yes Yes
15
Fort Lewis College
93.29
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,000
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
64%
38% 91% 0 33 Yes No
16
Colorado State University-Pueblo
92.57
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$36,200
16:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
48%
34% 93% 2 38 No Yes
17
Metropolitan State University of Denver
92.29
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$38,600
19:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
18%
25% 65% 7 60 Yes Yes
18
Naropa University
92.13
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$18,600
9:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
65%
27% 70% 0 19 Yes No
19
Colorado Mesa University
91.28
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
$34,600
23:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
35%
29% 82% 5 34 No Yes
20
Colorado State University-Global Campus
86.00
Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.
$$$$$
Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.
N/A
38:1
First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.
N/A
N/A N/A 17 17 No Yes

Find & Compare Colleges in Colorado

This search tool that can help aspiring Colorado college students further narrow their options using characteristics such as tuition, enrollment, college type and degree level. It also allows them to compare up to four schools side-by-side to find which one suits their needs at a glance.

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Colorado Programs for College Planning & Readiness

Most students likely know how important it is to research prospective colleges, but not all of them know where to begin. There are several programs and organizations dedicated to preparing students for – and helping them succeed at – Colorado colleges and universities. Among them:

Colorado GEAR UP

When it comes to education quality and opportunity, not all future college students start on a level playing field. Some groups face an uphill climb, which results in poorer student outcomes. This federally-funded program helps minority, low-income and first-generation college students get college-ready. GEAR UP advisors recruit remedial students in middle school and continue to mentor and advise them through high school and college. The program also offers scholarships, pays for college courses available to high school students and helps students earn college credit for skills learned outside the classroom.

Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative

This is a Colorado Department of Higher Education program designed to help underserved Colorado students receive the education necessary to compete in tomorrow’s workforce. The initiative funds several programs with the goal to make college attainable and affordable to all students: they provide funding, services and encouragement to motivate students through college and into the workforce. It offers Matching Student Scholarship Grants, bridge programs for high school students, mentoring, career services and community workforce programs.

College Opportunity Fund

The Colorado Legislature established the College Opportunity Fund (COF) connect students with financial aid. This stipend-based program pays a portion of new and returning students’ in-state tuition, public or private, so long as they formally apply and meet all eligibility criteria. The Legislature sets stipend amounts annually.

College Costs: How Does Colorado Compare?

When choosing a college, it’s important to take a look at tuition costs. Factors such residency, institution type, course load and financial aid received all affect how much one pays for a Colorado college degree. The following information shows how Colorado institutions compare to schools across the country based on average of tuition, percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the amount they receive.

Average Colorado Tuition &
Fees at 4-Year Public Colleges

Source: CollegeBoard

% of Colorado Students
Receiving Financial Aid

Source: IPEDS

Average Financial Aid Award
for Colorado Students

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Most Affordable Colleges in Colorado

Tuition and fees may not be the only things that dictate college affordability, but they certainly contribute. Another important consideration: financial aid. Grants, scholarships and loans can have a significant impact on one’s ability to pay for college, yet some institutions offer more aid than others. The following ranking highlights the most affordable colleges in Colorado based on net price, or total cost minus typical financial aid benefits.

Average
Annual Net
Price

Cost for students awarded federal financial aid, after school and government aid is deducted. At public colleges, only applies to in-state students.

Colorado College Net Price vs. National Average
COLORADO $18,948 Average
Annual Net Price
$18,073

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colorado Colleges With Best-Paid Alumni

The personal impact of college cost is a matter of expense versus one’s ability to repay it. Some colleges’ graduates earn more, on average, than others. Comparing individual Colorado colleges’ alumni earnings can help prospective students identify schools that improve their financial outlook. The following section pinpoints colleges with the highest alumni salaries ten years after graduation.

Annual
Median Earnings
10 Years
After Entering
College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

Colorado Alumni Salaries vs. National Average
COLORADO $40,156 Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
$42,759

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colleges in Colorado for Least Alumni Debt

The rising costs of getting a college education can be discouraging for potential students. Since tuition varies depending on location and the type of school, it pays to consider which Colorado colleges’ students graduate with the least amount of student loan debt. The national average is also provided for comparison.

Median
Federal Student
Loan Debt After
Graduation

Only for undergraduates who completed college; does not include Parent-PLUS loans.

Colorado College Grad Debt Vs. National Average
COLORADO $22,440 Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
$23,145

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

What Does It Cost to Live in Colorado?

Living costs vary greatly by state, region and city. Finance-savvy students factor this into their college budgets. This section compares average costs of living across the five most populous Colorado cities.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 102% 111% 98% 87% 96% 103% 101%
Colorado Springs 95% 98% 94% 82% 94% 102% 95%
Denver 110% 130% 101% 94% 99% 108% 104%
Glenwood Springs 117% 148% 100% 81% 104% 114% 112%
Grand Junction 97% 100% 95% 87% 95% 105% 99%
Pueblo 86% 72% 95% 84% 92% 94% 93%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

Colorado College Accreditation

Choosing an accredited college in Colorado is important because it ensures the school has met certain quality standards in areas like faculty, curriculum and facilities. Accreditation comes into play when students need to transfer credits from one college to another, apply for federal and state financial aid, obtain professional licensing and apply to graduate programs.

Institutions can be accredited either holistically or programmatically, and on a national or regional basis. For example, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) gives accreditation to Colorado schools and others in the region. The following are examples of organizations accrediting specific college programs.

Popular Cities to Attend College in Colorado

Boulder

Boulder is considered one the nation's best college towns. It is a highly livable city for both students and graduates, with strong art and food scenes, innovative public transit, walking and bicycle trails, and a variety of employment opportunities such in teaching, health care, technology, science and more. Boulder has two universities, several trade schools, community colleges, and a variety of private, non-traditional specialized schools.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

BoulderNaropa University Public $17,208 $47,800
Naropa is an accredited private, liberal arts college with approximately 950 annual enrollments and a student-to-teacher ratio of 11:1. Naropa offers an alternative to traditional universities by combining rigorous academics, experimental learning and contemplative practice with a curriculum influenced by Buddhist philosophies. In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, Naropa offers online courses, low-residency degrees and study abroad opportunities. Students can pursue degrees in subjects such as art therapy, early childhood education, music, writing and literature, environmental studies, and contemplative psychology.
BoulderUniversity of Colorado, Boulder Public $21,849 $48,000
UC Boulder, founded in 1876, is considered the flagship university of the University of Colorado system. It is a public, four-year institution serving almost 31,000 students each year with an average student-to-teacher ratio of about 18:1. UC Boulder is known as a public research and teaching institution, with projects ranging from aerospace to health. Students can participate in rese
Denver

With a wide variety of post-secondary school options, colleges in Denver are excellent options for college students. Denver has several public two- and four-year institutions; private trade, technology and art schools; seminary schools; two medical schools and several high-ranking online graduate programs. Among these institutions:

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

DenverCommunity College of Denver Public $16,299 $59,100
This centrally located, two-year community college enrolls approximately 10,200 students a year, many of which are first-generation college students, non-traditional students and veterans. CCD offers hybrid, online and alternative credit options; and academic services such as technical tutoring; career advising; and on-campus health and child care. Popular programs include health professions, liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities.
DenverMetropolitan State University of Denver Public $16,287 $57,900
MSU Denver is a four-year public university based downtown. MSU is recognized nationwide for its diverse student population, ranking high for graduating students of color. The Business, Psychology and Protective Services programs are popular here, and the college recently received awards for its Sales Education and STEM programs. Annual undergraduate enrollment is about 22,000 with a student-to-teacher ratio of 19:1. MSU tuition is also lower than most four-year Colorado colleges.
DenverRegis University Private not-for-profit $18,611 $39,000
Regis University is a non-profit, four-year Jesuit college with four campuses metr

Source: College Scorecard

College Resources for Students in Colorado

Below are several Colorado resources to make aspiring students’ transition to college easier.

Collegeincolorado.org

This website contains helpful information on subjects such as college planning, financial aid, testing, college admissions, Colorado colleges and workforce transition for adults.

Colorado ASSET

Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow (ASSET) assists undocumented students with financial aid issues and college planning. The website has a section for exploring colleges in Colorado.

Colorado Commission on Higher Education

The CCHE is a Colorado State commission promoting college affordability and access. Its website offers data and information on college policies and financial aid; student support; and more.

Colorado Community College System

Students can find out more information about the network of 13 Colorado community colleges, such as details on each college, student resources, programs and costs.