CCCS Joins Gov. Jared Polis to Celebrate Signing of Key Higher Education Legislation

Colorado State Capitol building

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) joined Governor Jared Polis and state legislators throughout May to celebrate the signing of several bills that will advance access to higher education and workforce training.  

The partner of choice for government and industry, CCCS participated in more than 20 hearings advocating for bipartisan solutions. 

“As we navigate the challenges and opportunities facing our system of thirteen colleges, support from the General Assembly and Governor is invaluable,” said Fiona Lytle, CCCS chief government affairs officer. “Their continued engagement inspires us to work harder and dream bigger for the benefit of our students and the communities we serve.” 

Given the state’s limited budget available for higher education needs, the 2024 session proved to be an exceptional year with big wins for the community colleges. Efforts will bring increased state funding to community colleges; improve the transfer process for Colorado students; offer a new refundable tax credit that covers two years of college; and much more. Below is a summary of key legislation.

Increased Funding for Higher Education

Thanks to robust support from the Joint Budget Committee, state higher education institutions will receive a 10% increase in funding for the upcoming fiscal year. House Bill 24-1430, which sets the state budget, also boosted financial aid by $26.6 million to support low-income students.

Beyond additional operating dollars, the legislation included $18.7 million for controlled maintenance across several colleges and $3.6 million for a capital renewal project on Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Rangely Campus. Pikes Peak State College also received $300,000 to continue growing their successful cybersecurity program

“This additional funding comes at a pivotal time for our state. While enrollment stabilizes, we must renew efforts to close equity gaps—especially for our students who are disproportionately low-income and first-generation,” said CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia. “Thanks to our state leaders, we are better equipped to rise to these challenges and look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Thanks to our state leaders, we are better equipped to rise to these challenges and look forward to our continued collaboration.
Joe Garcia, CCCS Chancellor

Improvements to the Transfer Process

As open access institutions, community colleges are gateways for thousands of students who seek an affordable path to a four-year degree. To support transfer students, CCCS partnered with the Colorado Department of Higher Education to promote Senate Bill 24-164 that increases transparency for students and creates new processes and reporting requirements for state colleges and universities. The legislation is already being hailed as a “pioneering” model that could be replicated nationally.

“We are thankful to the bill sponsors, the Governor’s office, and many supporters for championing our cause to improve transfer in Colorado,” said Dr. Landon Pirius, president of Red Rocks Community College. “The bill ensures that every student who gives college a shot is supported by a system that is transparent, navigable, and equitable.”

Senate Bill 24-164 ensures that every student who gives college a shot is supported by a system that is transparent, navigable, and equitable.
Dr. Landon Pirius, Red Rocks Community College President

Additional Legislative Wins

House Bill 24-1231 awarded Trinidad State College (TSC) a $19.4 million boost to ramp up healthcare programming. Part of a $247 million package, TSC will renovate a building on campus to house its allied health training programs, including nursing, medical assisting, and emergency medical services. The remodeled space will also include a new student center that offers advising, financial aid, and other services.

House Bill 24-1340 created a refundable income tax credit that covers the first two years of college for students whose families make under $90,000 annually. Students must apply for federal or state financial aid to qualify; the tax credit will refund leftover tuition and fees after scholarships and grants are applied. The credit is available for students attending state colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 24-104 allocated $95,000 to CCCS to align Career and Technical Education (CTE) and registered apprenticeship programs in the infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, education, and healthcare fields. CCCS is the only community college system in the country that administers federal funding for CTE.

For more information on Public and Legislative Affairs, visit the CCCS website.  

Group photo: Press conference on Feb. 12, 2024 for House Bill 24-1231.
Press conference on Feb. 12, 2024 for House Bill 24-1231.
Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee Hearing on Feb. 13, 2024 for Senate Bill 24-104.
Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee Hearing on Feb. 13, 2024 for Senate Bill 24-104.

More Stories