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Opportunity Next Colorado

The Phase 2 application will go live on March 11, 2024.

Overview

Enacted by SB23-205, the Universal High School Scholarship Program, renamed Opportunity Next Colorado, aims to increase enrollment in Colorado-based postsecondary education and training programs, and will prioritize learners who pursue an in-demand or high-priority pathway.

This is a one-time scholarship for Colorado’s Class of 2024 high school graduates and equivalent completers for use in the 2024-2025 academic year. Scholarship recipients may receive up to $1500 to help cover tuition, fees, books and equipment.

In addition to providing scholarships, Opportunity Next will offer personalized FAFSA and college application guidance in Colorado schools that have below average FAFSA completion rates. Schools will act as a conduit for this support. Additionally, group coaching for families will occur throughout the summer months. This evidence-based approach will aid in the prevention of summer melt, a phenomenon that reduces enrollment by up to 40% in Colorado institutions.

Postsecondary advising will then be extended to students in select districts who have not enrolled in a postsecondary pathway by the start of the 2024-25 academic year. Highly qualified coaches will guide these students, informing them of the state’s high-priority and in-demand pathways, thereby increasing opportunities for economic prosperity.

Overview

Type: Scholarship
For: 2024 Colorado high school and equivalent completers pursuing Colorado-based postsecondary education or training during the 2024-25 academic year
Amount: Up to $1,500 per student for tuition, fees, books and equipment

The Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) plays a crucial role in promoting regional business and economic advancement, recognizing education and human capital are the most important drivers. Colorado currently has two available jobs for every unemployed person in the State. While many available jobs require postsecondary education or training, there is a staggering decline in the number of high school graduates taking advantage of such opportunities. To ensure Coloradans are trained in the skills required for the jobs now and in the future, Colorado is investing in homegrown talent while also responding to Colorado employers’ needs.

This scholarship aims to increase enrollment in postsecondary education or training by: 

  • Reducing financial barriers to a wide selection of postsecondary opportunities
  • Connecting graduating seniors to college and career planning support
  • Elevating pathways to Colorado’s most in-demand careers

Through Opportunity Next, OEDIT serves as a convening body, bringing together agencies such as the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), and the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE), each with valuable insights into their respective learner populations.

In Colorado's pursuit of integrating education, workforce development, and industry, it is critical that industry voices are represented and incorporated into education. Opportunity Next is strategically designed to capitalize on OEDIT's close ties with business, championing quality work-based learning and postsecondary educational opportunities, ultimately guiding students towards in-demand pathways and productive careers.

To be eligible for the Opportunity Next Scholarship, Colorado Class of 2024 students must apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA) and may not concurrently receive Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiatives (COSI) funding.

To streamline how students receive this scholarship, and ensure uptake of the opportunity, we are asking Colorado-based public or private institutions of higher education, registered apprenticeships and eligible training providers to apply for a block allocation based on their forecasted 2024-25 enrollment. Student reach is then accelerated because the scholarship is awarded to eligible students upon enrollment, with priority given to those pursuing high-priority pathways.

Applicants may apply for Scholarship Administrator funds in either of the two phases, depending on their entity type:

  • Phase 1 is for university, college and community college institutions at public and private non-profit and for-profit institutions of higher education, located and incorporated within the state of Colorado.
  • Phase 2 is for registered apprenticeships, eligible training providers and technical colleges identified by the Department of Labor and Employment.

All applicants are required to provide at least one program aligned with the following high-priority pathways:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Computer & Information Sciences
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Family & Social Sciences
  • Health Professions
  • Transportation

If a block allocation is awarded, the role of the Scholarship Administrator is to support Opportunity Next Scholarship implementation within their institution. This includes supporting the distribution of marketing and communication, identifying internal processes to determine student eligibility, working with finance aid officer/s to ensure funds are distributed appropriately, and managing reporting requirements as determined by the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Phase 1 application has closed.

Phase 1 is for university, college and community college institutions at public and private non-profit and for-profit institutions of higher education, located and incorporated within the state of Colorado. (Technical colleges will apply in Phase 2.)

All applicants are required to provide at least one program aligned with the following high-priority pathways:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Computer & Information Sciences
  • Construction 
  • Education
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Family & Social Sciences
  • Health Professions
  • Transportation

If a block allocation is awarded, the role of the Scholarship Administrator is to support Opportunity Next Scholarship implementation within their institution. This includes supporting the distribution of marketing and communication, identifying internal processes to determine student eligibility, working with finance aid officer/s to ensure funds are distributed appropriately, and managing reporting requirements as determined by the Memorandum of Understanding. Unused funds must be returned.

Phase 1 Application (Closed January 22, 2024)

Phase 1 Application Guide

Phase 1 Frequently Asked Questions

Phase 1 Promotional Toolkit

The Phase 2 application will go live on March 11, 2024.

Phase 2 is for registered apprenticeships, eligible training providers and technical colleges.

All applicants are required to provide at least one program aligned with the following high-priority pathways:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Computer & Information Sciences
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Family & Social Sciences
  • Health Professions
  • Transportation

If a block allocation is awarded, the role of the Scholarship Administrator is to support Opportunity Next Scholarship implementation within their institution. This includes supporting the distribution of marketing and communication, identifying internal processes to determine student eligibility to ensure funds are distributed appropriately, and managing reporting requirements as determined by the Memorandum of Understanding. Unused funds must be returned.

Phase 2 Application (Coming in March)

Phase 2 Application Guide (Coming in March)

Phase 2 Frequently Asked Questions (Coming in March)

Phase 2 Promotional Toolkit (Coming in March)
 

Website for Students & Families will be made available in March 2024.

Website for High Schools & Counselors will be made available in March 2024.

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