Opportunity Next Colorado


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, starting with Colorado schools that have below average FAFSA completion rates. Additionally, group coaching for families will occur throughout the summer months. This evidence-based approach will aid in the prevention of summer melt and first-year student retention.

One-on-one education and career advising will also be extended to the Colorado Class of 2024 to support them in clarifying their goals, outlining actionable steps and identifying and addressing obstacles.  Qualified coaches will support these students, while also informing them of the state’s high-priority and in-demand pathways, thereby increasing opportunities for economic prosperity.


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.

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.

On June 7, 2024 a legislative amendment was signed by Governor Polis, changing the Opportunity Next scholarship eligibility requirements.

The initial law (SB23-205) required all scholarship recipients to complete FAFSA/CASFA and not be a COSI scholarship recipient. With the recent amendment (HB24-1365), degree-seeking students who do not complete the FAFSA or CASFA can be awarded an Opportunity Next scholarship, but will need to complete a waiver form confirming their inability to meet this requirement. Additionally, non-degree seeking students are exempt from the FAFSA/CASFA requirement/waiver, and COSI scholars may now simultaneously receive an Opportunity Next scholarship.

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, eligible training providers and Opportunity Now grantees 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 one of three 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.
  • Phase 3 is for Opportunity Now grantees.

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 Master Service Agreement.

The Phase 1 application has closed.

The Phase 2 application has closed.

Application is invite-only and will be sent to the program lead.

Invitations will go out in May 2024 for phase 1 seed and scale grantees, and June 2024 for phase 2 seed and scale grantees.

Students and families can learn about Colorado’s high-priority pathways and explore related education and training programs that provide scholarships on OpportunityNext.org.

In addition to scholarships, Opportunity Next offers free coaching and advising to Colorado Class of 2024 students and their families.

  1. Financial aid webinars for students and families, including:
    1. FAFSA walkthrough
    2. FAFSA/CASFA workshop
    3. Financial aid offer review
    4. Next steps post-FAFSA
  2. One-on-one education and career coaching to support learners: 
    1. Clarify postgraduate plans
    2. Connect personal goals to actionable steps
    3. Organize priorities and enhance productivity
    4. Identify and address potential obstacles
    5. Maintain motivation to overcome challenges
    6. Reinforce commitment to postsecondary goals
  3. Coaching webinars for families to support their learners: 
    1. Have quality conversations about college and/or career 
    2. Create a plan to balance life after high school
    3. Create accountability from a distance
    4. Build strong social relationships
    5. Engage in conversations about mental health
    6. Build resilience

Please visit uaspire.org/opportunitynext for financial aid support, and OpportunityNext.org/coaching for coaching services.

Students and families can learn about Colorado’s high-priority pathways and explore related education and training programs that provide scholarships on OpportunityNext.org.

If you would like to engage your learners, school or district in Opportunity Next Colorado, this
Promotional Toolkit, (PDF) will equip you with the promotional materials needed to highlight Opportunity Next resources.

Thank you for your partnership!

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