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ERIC Number: ED508925
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Pages: 57
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
An Evaluation of Colorado's College Opportunity Fund and Related Policies
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
During the spring of 2004, the State of Colorado enacted legislation that fundamentally changed the mechanisms through which it financed its public higher education system, beginning with the 2005-06 academic year. Rather than appropriating funds directly to institutions, the legislation created the College Opportunity Fund (COF), the principal feature of which established a stipend available to all lawfully present Colorado residents to use to offset their in-state tuition costs at the public or eligible private higher education institution of their choice. In addition to funding the stipend, the legislation also included two other prominent features. Fee-for-service contracts would pay institutions to fulfill a set of specific state needs not covered by the stipend. And performance contracts negotiated between each institution and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (DHE) would ensure accountability while allowing for greater institutional autonomy and deregulation. The legislation marked a significant departure from past practice in Colorado; it also represented the first and, to date, only attempt in the United States to experiment with a voucher-based system for financing higher education statewide. Recognizing the novelty of the approach, the Colorado legislature inserted a requirement that the COF policy be formally evaluated within five years of passage. The Colorado Department of Higher Education (DHE), with support from the Donnell-Kay Foundation, contracted with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) to do this evaluation. This report is the result of that evaluation project and will address each of the four components of that project in turn. The first section will address the background conditions in Colorado that contributed to the development of the COF policy and the original intent of the legislation. Next, the report will describe the findings from a quantitative analysis of participation both before and after implementation of the COF policy. This section addresses how COF influenced the demand for higher education. The third section will address the degree to which COF impacted institutional behaviors, including how closely aligned the implementation of the COF policy was to its intent. Finally, the report will present conclusions and offer policy options that Colorado might wish to pursue in light of the findings of this study. Three appendices are included: (1) Detailed Methodology; (2) List of Interviewees and Focus Groups; and (3) Press Release Announcing COF Evaluation Project. (Contains 20 figures, 1 table, and 27 endnotes.) [This report was prepared for the Colorado Department of Higher Education and was made possible in part with support from the Donnell-Kay Foundation.]
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. P.O. Box 9752, Boulder, CO 80301-9752. Tel: 303-541-0200; Fax: 303-541-0291; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Identifiers - Location: Colorado; United States