Cost of College in Colorado

If one digs deeply enough, there are some interesting data out there that are quite telling with respect to the true cost of college in Colorado. By carefully comparing precisely the same data points, it is possible to make a more meaningful comparison than one can get from the confusing sets of statistics thrown at families in many financial aid information sessions during campus visits.

For the following I went on the College Board website, and looked at the published information associated with cost and financial aid for several Colorado institutions. In particular, I chose to examine tuition, room and board; average percentage of need met; average amount of need-based scholarships and grants (assistance that doesn’t require repayment later); and average indebtedness at graduation.  Here is what I found for several key institutions for 2011:


  • TRB = $20,430
  • % need met = 90%
  • S&G = $7393
  • Grad debt = $22,683


  • TRB = $17,214
  • % need met = 73%
  • S&G = $10,114
  • Grad debt = $19,523

CO Mesa U

  • TRB = $15,205
  • % need met = 59%
  • S&G = $4460
  • Grad debt = NR


  • TRB = $16,373
  • % need met = 61%
  • S&G = $2097
  • Grad debt = NR

Ft Lewis

  • TRB = $13,602
  • % need met = 67%
  • S&G = $3884
  • Grad debt = $18,780

Colorado College

  • TRB = $50,450
  • % need met = NR
  • S&G = NR
  • Grad debt = NR

University of Denver

  • TRB = $48,273
  • % need met = 82%
  • S&G = $22,695
  • Grad debt = NR

Regis University

  • TRB = $31,188
  • % need met = 79%
  • S&G = $20,392
  • Grad debt = NR


One general observation is that there are some real educational bargains available in the state. The winner among the publics for percent of need met was CU-Boulder at 90%. The winner among the privates for the same measure was DU at 82%. Given the far higher cost of attendance at DU, however, this outcome translates into many fewer actual dollars.

I was impressed with the schools that disclosed everything, so hats off to CU, CSU and Ft. Lewis, and a big raspberry for CC, our most expensive institution, which discloses nothing.  Draw your own conclusions as to what might be revealed if they did share their info. I thought CSU looked darn good when their average need-based scholarship and grant amount was deducted from the tuition, room and board charges: $7100, the best outcome among all the schools. Regis looked darn good from this measure as well, coming out at $10,796, far better than DU at $25,578.

Of course this tells us nothing about what might be offered to the most desirable students by way of non-need-based offers; this can be potentially significant, but also highly variable.  So do your homework, and carefully scrutinize those financial aid award letters!

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