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Colleges in Colorado

Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Colorado has approximately 136 accredited institutions of higher education. Of these institutions, 15 are public four-year universities, 17 are public one to two-year colleges, 86 are private for-profit institutions, and 18 are private non-profit schools. The state's largest college system is the University of Colorado, which has four distinct campuses and over 57,000 students as of 2011.

Enrollment statistics from the 2010-2011 school year show that 356,654 students were attending institutions of higher education in the state of Colorado. Of these students, the vast majority (300,903) were enrolled in undergraduate programs, while the remaining 55,751 were enrolled in graduate programs across the state.

Fall 2011 Enrollment

  • Colorado State University System - 36,133

  • Colorado University System - 58,415

  • University of Colorado at Boulder - 30,788

Colorado Graduation Rates

75.5 percent of undergraduate freshmen returned for their second year of school in 2010. That value was slightly higher for freshmen attending public schools at 76 percent, and it was slightly lower for private university freshmen at 72.8 percent.

For students pursuing their two year associates degrees, 50 percent returned for their second year in 2010; 46.6 percent at public schools and 69 percent at private institutions.

Of the students who entered college as undergraduate students for the first time in fall 2003, 53.3 percent graduated with a bachelor's degree within six years. 39.3 percent of students who entered school in 2003 in pursuit of an associates degree graduated within three years. Students who graduated within the allotted timeframe either graduated from universities in Colorado or other institutions of higher education in the state.

Colorado's graduation rate for students pursuing a four-year degree was slightly lower than the national average of 55.5 percent. However, Colorado's graduation rate for associates degree students was considerably higher than the national average of 29.2 percent.

SAT and ACT Test Scores

Only 18 percent of Colorado graduates of the class of 2011 took the SAT, while every single student in that class took the ACT.

Each section of the SAT is worth a total possible of 800 points. Among students taking the test in Colorado in 2011, the average critical reading score was 570, the average mathematics score was 573, and the average writing score was 556. All of these numbers were significantly higher than national averages, which were 497, 514, and 489 respectively.

Colorado SAT Percentiles - 2011
Percentile Critical Reading Mathematics Writing

75th

640

640

620

50th

570

580

560

25th

500

510

490


National SAT Percentiles - 2011
Percentile Critical Reading Mathematics Writing

75th

570

600

560

50th

490

510

480

25th

420

430

410

 

Data released by ACT, Inc. shows the average composite score among Colorado's students was 20.7, which is slightly lower than the national average of 21.1 for the same year. The highest possible composite score is 36. Students were also scored individually on English, mathematics, reading, and science. ACT publishes college readiness benchmarks for each of these areas, which are 18, 22, 21 and 24 respectively. Among Colorado test takers, 23 percent met all four benchmarks.

Colorado Average ACT Scores - 2011
English Math Reading Science Composite

20.1

20.4

20.9

20.7

20.7


National Average ACT Scores - 2011
English Math Reading Science Composite

20.6

21.1

21.3

20.9

21.1


Colorado Tuition

Students enrolled in public institutions in Colorado during the 2010-2011 school year paid an average of $16,208. This total includes room, board, tuition, and educational fees. Out-of-state students paid approximately $17,500 more than Colorado residents did with an average cost of $33,793 during the same year. These figures assume full-time enrollment for both the fall and spring semesters.

Students who enrolled in private universities in Colorado for the 2010-2011 paid an average of $30,153 for tuition and related expenses, regardless of whether they were residents of the state.

Average Colorado Higher Education Costs - 2010-2011
Public Universities (Resident) Public Universities (Nonresident) Independent Universities (Resident & Nonresident) Public 2 Year Colleges (Resident) Public 2 Year Colleges (Nonresident)

Tuition & Fees

$6,670

$24,255

$19,116

$2,727

$8,569

Room

$5,012

$5,012

$5,508

N/A

N/A

Board

$4,526

$4,526

$5,529

N/A

N/A

Total Cost

$16,208

$33,793

$30,153

$2,727

$8,569


How to Pay for College in Colorado

529 Plans are investment vehicles with significant tax advantages that families can use to put aside money for future higher education expenses.

The four 529 Plans offered by the state of Colorado include the Colorado CollegeInvest Smart Choice College Savings Plan, Colorado CollegeInvest Stable Value Plus College Savings Plan, Colorado CollegeInvest Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan, and Colorado Scholars Choice College Savings Program.

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, University of Colorado, Colorado Department of Higher Education, National Information Center for Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis, ACT, Inc., The College Board

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