Online Colleges in Colorado
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Top Online Programs
Many nontraditional learners interested in online education ultimately pursue their degrees at online colleges in Colorado. Along with the convenience of attending college courses online, the state is home to a thriving economy, diverse career options, and well-regarded accredited schools. At a school like the University of Colorado, Denver, online learners can earn competitive degrees in majors such as nursing and information technology to gain an edge in fast-growing, well-compensated industries. The state's low unemployment rate and high wages for both skilled and unskilled workers often motivate these learners to move to the state to further their careers. And in-state learners can draw upon financial aid resources such as the North Colorado Medical Center Foundation's Belle M. Loustalet Memorial Scholarship to help pay for their degrees.
This guide provides an overview of what online learners can expect from Colorado as far as tuition costs, financial aid resources, and post-graduation employment opportunities.
Job Outlook for Students with College Degrees in Colorado
Recent graduates face pleasant prospects in Colorado. Colorado maintains an impressively low unemployment rate at 3.3%, below the national average of 3.8%. The state's annual mean wage also remains relatively high at $54,050, above the national average of $50,620. Colorado employs a total of around 2,555,300 workers. Workers in the office and administrative support industry, the highest-employing industry in the state, make a mean annual wage of $39,630, above the industry's national average of $37,950. Though many of the highest-employing industries statewide include those not requiring college degrees, such as food preparation and serving related occupations, the state employs 178,980 in the highly-skilled business and financial operations industry. Those in business and financial operations in Colorado make $77,290 on average, slightly above the national average of $76,330. Colorado employs 142,130 in healthcare practice and technical occupations, where practitioners and workers make $83,270, above the national average of $80,760.
Unemployment Rate, November 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Colorado
Attending an online college program typically costs the same as attending an on-campus one. Some schools even charge a flat tuition rate for both online and on-campus learners. Online learners may also save money because they do not pay for on-campus fees, transportation, housing, or textbooks.
Those looking to attend a Colorado community college online can anticipate an average public two-year tuition rate of $4,510, higher than the national average of $3,660. Likewise, public four-year colleges cost learners an average of $11,140 in Colorado, higher than the national average of $10,230. The slightly higher tuition cost in Colorado reflects its lower unemployment rate and higher average wage. A healthier economy means more funding for public two- and four-year institutions, leading to a greater breadth of quality instruction in Colorado schools. Articulation agreements like the one between numerous Colorado community colleges and the University of Colorado, Boulder reduce the time and cost of getting a bachelor's.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Colorado
Most public schools offer discounted tuition for in-state learners, partly to incentivize learners to remain in-state and partly because public schools receive funding from the state. At $11,140 for in-state learners and $30,390 for out-of-state learners, public schools in Colorado cost slightly more than the respective national averages of $10,230 and $26,290. Because they do not receive funding from the state, private schools typically do not offer in-state tuition discounts.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year In-State||Public Four-Year Out-of-State|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Colorado
Paying for college may seem daunting, but resources available to those attending online colleges in Colorado can make it much easier. To qualify for financial aid, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Using the information given on your FAFSA, your school subtracts your expected family contribution from the cost of tuition to calculate your financial aid need. If you demonstrate enough need, you may be eligible to receive Pell Grant funding from the federal government or qualify for a subsidized loan. Unlike a loan, a grant does not need to be repaid. Alternately, you can apply for a scholarship from your school or from private organizations, such as the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants. Scholarships set their own requirements for eligibility aside from need, such as GPA, gender, major, or ethnicity. Applicants may also be eligible for federal work-study programs that allow them to pay back their tuition through a part-time job at their school.
Many learners, often in healthcare-related majors, apply for tuition reimbursement programs such as University of Colorado's tuition assistance program.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Colorado College Students
Who Can Apply: The North Colorado Medical Center Foundation offers this annual scholarship to learners accepted to an accredited Colorado nursing program planning on pursuing an associate or bachelor's and earning RN licensure.
Who Can Apply: The Partner Colorado Credit Union offers scholarship awards starting at $1,000 to Colorado residents between 17 and 40 attending college full time, either as an undergraduate or graduate student. Awardees must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Who Can Apply: Graduating high school seniors in Colorado may apply for the Daniels Fund comprehensive four-year scholarship. Applicants must earn an SAT math score of 470 and reading and writing score of 450 or ACT scores of 17.
Who Can Apply: Colorado residents enrolled in an accredited Colorado nursing program with a minimum of one semester of study left until graduation who are committed to practicing in Colorado upon graduation may apply for this scholarship.
Who Can Apply: The Englewood-based organization Friends of Nursing offers access to scholarships for nursing students in undergraduate and graduate programs at participating Colorado schools. The scholarship gives preference to students planning to practice in Colorado.
Who Can Apply: CAPA annually awards scholarship funds to a physician assistant learner in Colorado. Applicants must present proof of financial need, a letter of recommendation, and an essay on their future career goals.
Who Can Apply: The Credit Union Foundation of Colorado annually awards ten scholarships of $5,000 to Colorado residents taking at least 12 credits at an accredited college or university. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Who Can Apply: The ACEC annually awards up to $30,000 to upper-division learners pursuing engineering bachelor's degrees from ABET-accredited Colorado institutions. Applicants must present proof of relevant work experience within the past three years and maintain full-time enrollment for eligibility.
Who Can Apply: High school seniors in the counties of Morgan, Washington, Logan, Yuma, Phillips, and Sedgwick planning to pursue a postsecondary degree in education may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need but not Pell Grant eligibility.
Who Can Apply: CHIMSS offers a $2,000 scholarship to students and health professionals pursuing a degree in health informatics, health information technology, biomedical informatics, and other relevant fields.
Best Majors for Online Students in Colorado
Colorado's healthy economy presents skilled graduates with diverse career options. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment projects that from 2017 to 2027, the top three greatest areas in industry growth will come from healthcare support (36.5%), construction and extraction (30.74%), and healthcare practitioners and technical workers (30.28%). The top occupations for projected employment growth rates in the state include positions relating to healthcare such as physician assistants (4.33%) and nurse practitioners (4.23%), but also include many in specialized technical labor and information technology, with information systems analysts rounding out the list at a projected growth rate of 3.59%. As Colorado's reputation as a boon economy for STEM-related occupations grows, some may feel drawn to majors such as information technology and computer science. Others, however, may ultimately choose programs in healthcare such as nursing and physician assistants, due in large part to a statewide shortage of nurses and the high earnings health and medical care workers and practitioners enjoy.
NursingNursing positions often do not require more than a bachelor's and can lead to specialized roles such as midwifery or private practice. In Colorado, nurse practitioners make a mean annual wage of $110,440, while nationally they make $107,480. Many accredited online colleges in Colorado offer online BSN-to-DNP degrees.
Physician AssistantBy 2027, the 3,016 physician assistants in Colorado will grow to 4,608. This fast-growing profession pays well and often requires a master's degree. As of 2017, physician assistants in Colorado make a mean annual wage of $104,100, close to the national average annual mean wage of $104,760.
Information TechnologyAccording to the CDLE, from 2017 to 2027 the number of information security analysts in Colorado will grow from 2,349 to 3,342. In Colorado, information security analysts make a mean annual wage of $103,210, well above the national mean of $99,690. Learners interested in STEM degrees should consider Colorado online college courses in information technology.
Resources for Online College Students in Colorado
Colorado Department of Higher Education: The CDHE advocates for learners at postsecondary institutions in Colorado through programs and services such as its Opportunity Scholarship Initiative and Colorado Gear Up. On the CDHE website, students and parents can access informational guides and reports on the availability of degrees and online courses at postsecondary schools in Colorado.
Colorado Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: The Colorado chapter of HIMSS represents and advocates for healthcare information technology professionals statewide, in part through resources such as its $2,000 academic scholarship for healthcare IT majors in Colorado. The organization offers an annual career fair, re-certification services, an online resource library, and reduced-price webinars for members.
Colorado Women's Education Foundation: Based in Boulder, CWEF is a nonprofit that supports postsecondary education for female learners of nontraditional age demonstrating financial need through scholarships. During its 40 years, the foundation has provided almost 600 women with $450,000 in aid. The foundation's website features a list of national and state-specific scholarship resources for women and minorities.
Colorado Nurses Foundation: Founded in 1987 as the Nursing Institute of Colorado, the CNF offers nursing students in the state access to scholarships, grants, and funding for educational activities. The Englewood-based nonprofit hosts an annual Nightingale Gala where its scholarship recipients for the year receive formal recognition.
Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants: CAPA represents and advocates for physician assistants in Colorado, one of the state's fastest growing occupations. The organization annually awards one physician assistant student with scholarship funds. The organization's website features a career center with a searchable index of statewide job opportunities.
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