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Online Colleges in Colorado

Most Affordable Online Colleges
Top Colorado Cities
   Page Contents

When English professor Katharine Lee Bates took in the majestic vistas from atop Pikes Peak in 1893, she was so moved she wrote a poem that eventually became "America the Beautiful," one of the United States’ most patriotic songs.

Students wishing to write their own history often get their educational journeys started at affordable online colleges in Colorado. Many students begin their educational foundation at one of Colorado's many community colleges.

The Colorado Community College System serves more than 144,000 students annually from 13 different colleges and 39 locations throughout the state. In the school year that concluded in the fall of 2015, more than 11,000 students transferred to four-year universities, the CCCS reports.

Many of those transferring students attend one of the three colleges in the Colorado State University System. The system includes Colorado State University Fort Collins, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global Campus, which the system reports was the nation's first independent, fully-online public university. CSU-Global Campus was founded in 2007.

Others attend colleges in the University of Colorado System. The system has campuses in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and a medical campus in Aurora. The system reported a headcount of more than 63,000 students in the fall of 2016. Colorado also is home to dozens of technical and vocational colleges in nearly every city of the state, as well as many well-respected private and fully-online colleges. The chart below represents the total number of degree-granting institutions for online students in Colorado.

Degree LevelNumber of Online ProgramsNumber of Colleges
Associate14531
Bachelor's23126
Master's16219

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 5.4 million people living in Colorado in July of 2015. Colorado residents are among the most educated in the country: 38 percent of Colorado residents had obtained at least a bachelor's degree in 2015, the bureau notes. More than 494,000 residents, or 14 percent of the state's population, held professional or advanced degrees in 2015, the Census Bureau notes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado had a total workforce of 2.45 million in May of 2015. Average annual wages for those employees in that year was $38,812, the BLS adds. Colorado residents with bachelor's degrees earned median annual wages of $48,901 in 2015, while residents with graduate degrees earned a median salary of $63,184, the Census Bureau reports.

Most Affordable Online Colleges in Colorado

The rankings below highlight the most affordable two- and four-year online colleges in Colorado. Each college was ranked by cost of in-state tuition, and in the event of a tie the institutions were ranked by average net price. The average net price is figured by taking the total cost of attendance after deducting funds provided through financial aid by federal, state, local government or institutional grants and scholarships. The total attendance cost is the sum of tuition, along with fees such as books, supplies and the weighted average of room and board, as well as other expenses.

For Colorado schools ranked by quality and other factors, use our Top Collegestool.

Most Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Colorado

Colorado students often choose to start their education at one of Colorado's many affordable online community or technical colleges. Below are the five most-affordable online two-year colleges in Colorado.

1

Aims Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,538
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30.49%
Institution Type
Public

About

Aims Community College served more than 7,100 students in the 2014-2015 academic year from campuses in Greeley, Fort Lupton, Loveland and Windsor. The college awarded 1,487 degrees and certificates in that academic year, Aims reports. Aims Community College offers more than 160 degree and certificate programs. Students can enroll in online classes through Aims Online Campus. Aims offers more than 150 classes online, including study in accounting, sociology, biology, psychology, political science and dozens of other areas for students working to complete associate degree requirements. Aims Community College also offers a fully online associate of arts degree in general requirements for students seeking to transfer to a four-year university.

School Website: 
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2

Community College of Denver

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,998
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Institution Type
Public

About

In 2014, Community College of Denver had a total student headcount of 10,294 students. CCD offers more than 100 programs that culminate in an associate degree or prepare students to transfer to a four-year university to complete their educational journeys. Community College of Denver offers a mix of hybrid and fully online classes. Students can take online classes either through CCD Online, the college's online educational portal where classes are taught by CCD staff, or through Colorado Community College Online, a consortium of the state's 13 community colleges. CCC Online offers more than 200 different fully online courses.

School Website: 
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3

Morgan Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,998
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
25.42%
Institution Type
Public

About

MCC serves students from northeast and north-central Colorado from campus locations in Fort Morgan, Burlington, Limon, Bennett and Wray. Students enrolled at Morgan Community College can take online classes through MCCC, which are taught by MCC professors, or through Colorado Community Colleges Online. CCC Online delivered online education to more than 47,400 students at the start of the 2016 academic year. Students can choose from more than 200 online classes taught by instructors throughout the CCC Online system. Regular-session classes run 15 weeks, while fast-track classes run six weeks long. Students can either take online classes as they work toward degree completion or complete associate degree programs in a fully-online environment. Classes taken through CCC Online are guaranteed transferable to four-year universities in the state, CCC Online notes.

School Website: 
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4

Front Range Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,998
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
32.55%
Institution Type
Public

About

FRCC is the largest community college in Colorado. It serves nearly 28,000 students annually from campus locations in Boulder, Larimer, Brighton, Westminster, and through its extensive online education portal. Front Range Community College offers 25 fully online associate degree programs, including study in French, geology, philosophy, Spanish, business, anthropology, and many more. It also offers 13 fully-online certificate programs and 11 primarily online degree programs where students are required to attend some on-campus meetings but up to 80 percent of coursework is completed online. FRCC also offers more than 350 different online classes for traditional on-campus students.

School Website: 
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5

Pikes Peak Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,998
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
32.6%
Institution Type
Public

About

Serving students throughout southern Colorado, Pikes Peak Community College has an annual enrollment of more than 20,000 students. PPCC offers 158 associate degree and certificate programs. Students can take online classes through the PPCC Online Campus or through Colorado Community Colleges Online, a consortium of the state's 13 community colleges. PPCC Online classes are either fully online or delivered in a hybrid format and require proctored exams taken on campus, the college notes. PPCC Online classes follow the same semester schedule as regular on-campus course offerings. Students are free to mix-and-match online classes from either online campus, PPCC notes.

School Website: 
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Most Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in Colorado

Colorado students often transfer to four-year schools, or some chose to enroll in a four-year university right from the start. The five schools below are the most affordable four-year online colleges in Colorado where students can earn bachelor's degrees or higher.

1

Taft University System

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,550
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100%
Institution Type
Private

About

William Howard Taft University System in Denver offers distance learning programs to students throughout the world. Current educational programs include doctoral degrees in education administration, educational technology and leadership and charter school administration. Taft's business school offerings include a doctoral degree program in business administration, as well as master's degree programs in information technology, taxation and business administration. It also offers a bachelor's degree program in business administration and six undergraduate certificate programs in business-related fields. Students can complete any of the programs or certificates entirely online. Students can transfer up to 90 credits of completed coursework from approved institutions.

School Website: 
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2

Colorado Mountain College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,750
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
23.49%
Institution Type
Public

About

Colorado Mountain College serves more than 20,000 students each year throughout 12,000 square miles of north-central Colorado from 11 campus locations and through online offerings. CMC offered 110 online courses in the fall of 2016, including study in anthropology, biology, nutrition, engineering, education, environmental science and many more. Students who enroll in online classes may still may need to attend a campus location occasionally to watch video courses or take proctored exams, the college notes. Colorado Mountain College uses Canvas as its online content management platform.

School Website: 
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3

Aspen University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,500
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100%
Institution Type
Private

About

Aspen U is a fully online university headquartered in Denver. It offers a wide range of fully online degree paths through its five schools. Aspen offers an associate degree program in early childhood education and bachelor's degree programs with many different concentrations in criminal justice, business administration, health, nursing and education. Aspen University has 34 different fully online master's degree programs. Students pursuing master's degrees can study forensic nursing, informatics or public health, while students pursuing business degrees can study entrepreneurship, finance, project management or pharmaceutical marketing or many other options. Aspen University also has doctoral degree programs in computer science or five different areas of concentration in education.

School Website: 
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4

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,973
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Institution Type
Public

About

MSUD is a public university located in the heart of Denver. Ninety-three percent of MSUD undergraduates are from the Denver area, the university notes. Metropolitan State University of Denver offers dozens of different bachelor's degree options, with many tailored to the area's leading industries, such as brewpub operations, beverage management or brewing science. Although students can take online classes at MSUD, much coursework is expected to be completed on campus. Metropolitan State University of Denver uses Blackboard as its online content management platform. MSUD students also can enroll in self-paced courses that have no set assignment deadlines or scheduled meeting times.

School Website: 
GO
5

Adams State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,160
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
43.79%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Alamosa in southern Colorado, Adams State University says its enrollment of more than 3,700 students is a record for the university. Adams State University offers many different online options for its on-campus students or for fully online distance learners. On-campus students can enroll in online classes in business, criminal justice, education, mathematics, physics or any number of areas of study as they work to complete degree requirements. ASU's online degree paths include associate degree programs in business or general education. Bachelor's degree paths include study in business administration, English/liberal arts, elementary education and interdisciplinary studies. ASU also offers online bachelor's degree programs in criminology, social welfare, business and nursing, as well as numerous online graduate degrees.

School Website: 
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College Accreditation in Colorado

Students searching for prospective online colleges should pay particular attention to accreditation. Earning a degree from a properly accredited school means that degree is valid because educational programs adhere to predetermined quality standards.

For online colleges in Colorado, there are several different nationally recognized accrediting bodies, including the following:

  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Higher Learning Commission

Students who want to know how their prospective college is accredited can check on the school's website or through the Department of Education's website.

School Interviews

These interviews are from some of the leading educators in Colorado, who share their views on college life in the state.

 Peggy O'Neill-Jones
The nature of teaching and learning is evolving …

Peggy O'Neill-Jones

Professor of Technical Communications and Media Production

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Metropolitan State University of Denver?

MSU Denver currently offers more than 200 online courses in a variety of disciplines. We are currently in the process of developing fully online programs. This will include not only the academic infrastructure, but also corresponding student support services. A list of available online courses can be found at http://www.msudenver.edu/cgi-bin/schedules/fall/online.cgi.

Q. What advice would you give students interested in an online degree program?

Look for a degree with academic rigor and make sure the time and money investment is sound. While online learning is an effective strategy to access education, do not forget that professional networks and personal connections to the University are equally important.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

The nature of teaching and learning is evolving and online learning is making 21st century learning skills essential, (i.e., collaboration, self-directed learning, communication, problem solving.) There will be growth in more adaptive learning technology infused with online learning, making self-paced degrees and personalized experiences more possible.


 Julia Selby Smith
The lines between online and classroom learning will continue to become more seamless.

Julia Selby Smith

Marketing Writer

Colorado State University Online

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Colorado State University?

Colorado State University's online programs include a broad array of graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, certificate programs, badges, professional development courses and MOOCs. We currently offer more than 70 programs online, and we continue to expand our online offerings frequently.

Subject matter of our online programs is truly across the spectrum. We offer degrees in agriculture, engineering, music, student affairs, business, psychology, education, and much more. Our certificates and badges are even more diverse; they provide training in some really niche areas.

All of our online degree programs feature the same curricula and faculty as on-campus programs. We make it our mission to expand access to CSU's excellent academic programs and our accomplished faculty researchers and practitioners to students beyond our campus borders.

Q. What advice would you give students interested in an online degree program?

Make an effort to stay engaged, curious, and resourceful, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes studying online rather than in a classroom can feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be that way. There is a lot you can do as a student to make your learning experience richer:

Get comfortable with the technology. Before you start a course or program, give yourself time to play around with all of the features in your learning management system, or other online components of your course. The more technology you are able to use to communicate, the better your learning experience will be.

Ask questions. Faculty are there to help, and they want to hear your questions. If you don't understand subject matter, an assignment, or the technology used in your course, speak up!

Finally, get to know your classmates. Discussions are an important part of the learning process, so even if it's not required to use discussion boards, chat features, or peer reviews in your classes, do it anyway. Your peers all come from unique backgrounds and have interesting perspectives to share. You can learn as much from them sometimes as you can from your instructor.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

The lines between online and classroom learning will continue to become more seamless. As classroom programs continue to use more technology, much of what on-campus students do for their courses will be based online. We're seeing this now as more students and instructors adopt mobile technology. You don't have to be in the classroom all the time to engage in learning activities. Technology will also make the experiences of online students much more like a classroom experience. Video and audio technologies are allowing for more real-time communication in online courses, and open up communication channels between students and faculty. Regardless if students are online or on campus, they are all going to be working in the same shared digital spaces.

Financial Aid in Colorado

Students who wish to attend college in Colorado have access to a number of state financial aid programs that can help them reduce the cost of attendance. The Colorado Department of Higher Education provides a hub of information to help families learn about how the financial aid process works, as well as administers some programs to fund students' educational pursuits. The CDHE's mission is "to provide access to high-quality, affordable education for all Colorado residents that is student-centered, quality driven and performance-based."

As reported by the Institute for College Access and Success, the average student loan debt is $25,064 in Colorado. However, the state's financial aid programs, coupled with national and private scholarships, grants, and loans can help families make college more affordable.

To get started on your financial aid quest, start exploring Colorado's state financial aid programs.

Colorado Scholarships

From graduating at the top of one's class to having affiliations with various organizations or community service endeavors, there are opportunities for Colorado students to earn scholarships. Here are a few popular programs:

High school students at the very top of their graduating class may be eligible for the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship. The scholarship was established with the hopes of keeping Colorado's highest-achieving students within the state to help lead, serve, and improve their local communities. Recipients must attend an accredited, four-year institution in Colorado.

  • Application deadline:  November 1st
  • Award amount:  Full tuition, plus stipends for room and board and other fees
  • Number of scholarships awarded:  N/A
  • Renewable:  No
  • Minimum GPA:  N/A
  • Merit vs. need-based: Merit
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Be a graduating Colorado high school senior
  • Residency required: Yes
The Colorado Masons' mission for the Benevolent Fund Scholarship is to award local students for their scholastic ability, leadership skills, and maturity regardless of their race, religion, gender, or Masonic relationship. Award recipients must attend an in-state post-secondary institution.

  • Application deadline:  Check with high school counselor in late October
  • Award amount:  Up to $7,000 per year
  • Number of scholarships awarded: 1 per local lodge
  • Renewable: Yes
  • Minimum GPA:  N/A
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Both
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Be a graduating senior a Colorado public high school
  • Residency required:  Yes
This Colorado Council Scholarship aims to reward students who are dedicated to volunteering and serving their communities. Recipients of this award must enroll as a full-time student at a Colorado Council Member Institution within six months of their high school graduation.

  • Application deadline:  January 31, 2017
  • Award amount: $1,500
  • Number of scholarships awarded: 16
  • Renewable:  No
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Merit
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Be a graduating high school senior
  • Residency required:  Yes

Boost your chances of winning a scholarship by learning about where to find them and how to apply in the Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

Colorado Grants

For students with financial need, grants can help reduce the cost of college in the best way possible since funds do not have to be repaid. Colorado offers a couple of generous programs for families who are most in need. See below:

Colorado residents enrolled at eligible in-state postsecondary institutions may apply for this grant through their school. Award amounts will be determined by the FAFSA and Expected Family Contribution.

  • Application deadline:  Must file FAFSA (priority deadline is February 1st)
  • Award amount:  Up to $5,000 per year
Graduate students enrolled in approved degree programs in the state of Colorado may be eligible to apply for this grant through their institution. Students must be enrolled at least half-time and document financial need.

  • Application deadline:  Must file FAFSA (priority deadline is February 1st)
  • Award amount:  Up to $5,000 per year
Although it's not exactly a grant, the COF Stipend is a need-based award to help offset the cost of attending a participating Colorado college or university, and it does not have to be repaid. As explained by the website, the College Opportunity Fund is a payment made directly to your college on your behalf to cover part of the cost of your total in-state tuition. The stipend does not cover your share of total in-state tuition. Any financial aid you receive will be applied to your share of in-state tuition.

  • Application deadline:  None specified
  • Award amount:  $75 per credit hour at public colleges; $38 per credit hour at private colleges

For more information about how grants can help you fund your college education, read the Ultimate Guide to Grants.

Colorado Loans

Colorado does not offer state-specific student loans and instead chooses to focus its financial aid offerings on scholarship and grant programs. However, many times, student loans are needed so that families can pay for what remains after financial aid is exhausted. Students are encouraged to start with federal student loan programs, which offer the most favorable terms, including some that are subsidized. Private student loans can also be used to supplement as needed.

Find out more about how student loans work by reading our Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Colorado

Top Cities For Students In Colorado

Students who are enrolled in online schools in Colorado or those who have completed their degrees have many different options to live and work in the state. The cities listed below represent some of the places that students can begin their educational journeys or start their work careers in Colorado.

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Total Population

2,651,392

Median salary for high school grads

$31,219

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$52,833

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

9%

Median rent

$882

Economics

Denver benefits from a diverse mix of industry. Beverage production from small and large breweries such as Coors Brewing Company, as well as wineries and distilleries, is one of the metro region's leading industries, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation reports. Others top industries in and around Denver include aerospace, bioscience, energy, financial services, healthcare, information technology and broadcasting/telecommunication, the economic development corporation reports.

Demographics

In July of 2015, there were 682,5454 people living in the City of Denver, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Forty-five percent of residents over age 25 had obtained at least a bachelor's degree in 2015, the bureau notes. Residents with graduate degrees earned a median annual salary of just under $64,000, the bureau reports. The greater Denver-Lakewood metropolitan region employed 1.37 million people in May of 2015, the BLS reports. In that year, the median annual salary for those workers was $41,246, the BLS notes.

Fun Facts

Denver is not called the Mile High City for nothing -- a step on the state capitol building is exactly 5,280 feet in elevation. Denver has more than 200 parks within city limits and also is home to seven professional sports teams.

Colorado Springs, CO

Total Population

669,070

Median salary for high school grads

$26,881

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$46,780

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

12.1%

Median rent

$799

Economics

Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas have a large military presence and are home to NORAD, Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Healthcare, housing, retail and tourism also factor into the region's economic health, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

Demographics

The Colorado Springs region was home to more than 456,000 people in July of 2015, the Census Bureau reports. Just over 37 percent of all residents had minimum educational obtainment of a bachelor's degree in 2015, the bureau notes. Residents with professional or advanced degrees took home median annual wages of $62,245 in 2015, the bureau notes. According to the BLS, there were 260,880 people employed in the Colorado Springs region at median annual wages of just over $34,000 in July of 2015.

Fun Facts

The U.S. Olympic Training Center is located in Colorado Springs. Nearby attractions include Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods Park.

Fort Collins, CO

Total Population

311,435

Median salary for high school grads

$28,504

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$42,555

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

16.9%

Median rent

$894

Economics

Fort Collins is the business hub of northern Colorado, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce reports. Key industries in the region include manufacturing, high tech and education -- Colorado State University's flagship campus is located in Fort Collins. The city has a large presence in the semiconductor industry and is home to Intel and Broadcom. Many Fort Collins companies are heavily involved in the clean energy and bioscience industries, the chamber notes.

Demographics

There were 161,175 people living in the City of Fort Collins in July of 2015, the Census Bureau reports. Fort Collins is a highly educated city -- more than 52 percent of city residents older than age 25 had obtained a bachelor's degree in 2015, the Census Bureau reports. Just over 20 percent of residents held graduate degrees in 2015, the bureau notes. Median annual wages for residents with advanced degrees in 2015 was $55,680, the Census Bureau reports. According to the BLS, there were 145,440 people employed in the greater Fort Collins region working at median annual wages of $36,712 in 2015.

Fun Facts

Fort Collins was founded as a military fort in 1864. The city maintains more than 600 acres of parks, as well as 40,000 acres of natural areas.

 
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  36. About the Higher Learning Commission, https://www.hlcommission.org/About-the-Commission/about-hlc.html
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  38. The Boettcher Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?PageID=150http://boettcherfoundation.org/colorado-scholarships/
  39. Colorado Masons' Benevolent Fund Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, http://www.coloradofreemasons.org/community/scholarships.shtml
  40. Colorado Council Volunteerism & Community Service Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, http://www.coloradocouncil.org/scholarship
  41. Colorado Student & Graduate Grants, Accessed December 2016, http://highered.colorado.gov/finance/financialaid/TypesofStateAidAvailable.html
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