Path between desks in a classroom

This year, 11,000 more prospective students submitted college applications on the day when it was free to do so compared to 2019.

The third Free Application Day took place on Oct. 13, which entailed the waiver of fees at all 32 public colleges and universities in the state. Some private institutions participated as well.

“Applications to colleges typically cost around $50. So if you want to apply to four colleges, that’s $200, and that’s a lot of money,” said Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, in September.

During the first year of the program, students submitted 23,000 applications. In 2019, there were 46,000 applications. Although CDHE indicated it was still awaiting the final numbers from this year, the increase over 2019 would amount to approximately 57,000 applications.

The program, according to the department, is meant to increase the "stagnant" rate of Colorado students attending college. Nearly 44% of Colorado residents ages 25-44 have a bachelor's degree, the highest percentage outside of the northeast and the District of Columbia. However, only 56% of high school students in the state enroll in college, a lower proportion than in many other states.

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