DENVER (CBS4) – Students saved nearly $2 million in waived application fees during the second Colorado Free Application Day. On Oct. 15, students across the state submitted nearly 44,500 college and university admissions applications, doubling participation from last year.

(credit: CBS)

“We are thrilled by the results of this year’s Colorado Free Application Day,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “We know that access to higher education is a crucial step toward securing a good paying job that can help hardworking people enjoy the Colorado way of life and provide for themselves and their families.”

Free Application Day was set up to encourage young people to further their learning. Despite being one of the most educated states in the country, Colorado sent just 56.3% of Colorado high school graduates to a college, university or technical school in 2017. By eliminating application fees, the Colorado Department of Higher Education aims to erase racial disparities in higher education.

“Colorado Free Application Day is all about activating potential,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “We’re thrilled that tens of thousands of students took advantage of this opportunity and eager to see what they accomplish on our Colorado campuses.”

In November, Gov. Polis, and Dr. Paccione were joined by college and university presidents from across the state as they released a plan to make college more affordable.

(credit: CBS)

“Many students said they were motivated to apply in-state and were encouraged by parents and teachers,” said Timalyn O’Neill, Senior Associate Director Admissions Processing & Service Coordination at CSU. “This allows us to keep strong students in state by giving them earlier access to scholarships.”

About half of the applications this year were submitted by students of color, and a more than a third were submitted by first generation students— two groups that have historically lower college enrollment rates in Colorado.

“Removing this cost barrier is one way we can make higher education more accessible for students and families, and I am proud our institutions continue to step up and rally behind them,” said Gov. Polis.

Application submissions are up 10% in Colorado compared to last year for four-year colleges and universities. Colorado State University in Fort Collins received more than 9,100 applications, followed by CU Boulder with 7,339 applications and the University of Northern Colorado with 5,908 applications.

Colorado State University in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

“We want Colorado students to attend Colorado institutions, and the day gave us an opportunity to work with students who otherwise may not have applied,” said Clark Brigger, executive director of admissions for CU Boulder. “It sends a positive message about Colorado institutions.”

Colorado Free Application Day caps off Colorado Applies Month, an annual statewide campaign coordinated by CDHE that encourages students to submit at least one postsecondary application and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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