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Gov. Jared Polis visits an Advanced Placement government class during his trip to Harrison High School on Tuesday in Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative has approved proposals for financial aid ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 that will serve approximately 2,650 students.

“In its first five years, the program has served more than 75,000 students leveraging $47 million in state funds and $28 million in fundraised dollars,” said Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

The three categories of awards given in this latest round were to counties, institutions of higher education, and workforce programs.

Signed into law in 2014, COSI awards grants that must be matched through a variety of programs. Some programs increase the amount of scholarships each year the student remains in school to encourage college completion.

Colorado has one of the highest percentages of adults with college degrees in the country, but only 20% of 9th grade students in the state go on to receive a four-year degree, and the disparity is exacerbated among students of color.

Fifty-four percent of matching scholarship recipients are Latino and more than two-thirds are female. In the latest round of funding, the COSI board approved nearly $3 million in applications that, through the matching funds, will result in nearly $6 million in total scholarships.

“Scholarship Initiative students are found to persist at rates 15 percentage points higher than their peers from similar socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds,” the program’s 2017-2018 evaluation found. Trinidad State Junior College had the highest number of recipient students, at 609.

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