President Frank’s Remarks for the Announcement of “CSU’s Commitment to Colorado”
June 17, 2010
- CSU is a land grant university, part of President Lincoln’s dream that every American with the talent and motivation to earn a college degree ought to have that opportunity.
- Lincoln tapped into something uniquely American in the Land Grant Act — that shared value of ours that says merit trumps class, talent triumphs over status.
- 150 years later, Lincoln’s land grant universities and their democratization of education have helped transform the world, setting the gold standard for public education.
- But over the past year as we’ve traveled the state, we’ve seen too many families struggling with lost jobs, mounting bills, and wondering how they’ll pay for their son or daughter’s college education.
- And we’ve seen our state’s leaders — who have made it clear that they want to keep higher education affordable and accessible — struggle as they grapple with the worst financial downturn of our lifetime, and we’ve seen them worry — as they should — as the cost of education shifts onto students and families.
- During this same time, CSU has worked hard, dramatically cutting our costs, hiking down our portion of the so called “budget cliff,” so that after next year when the federal stimulus funds are expended, we’ll have a fully balanced budget. We’ve focused on the Campaign for Colorado State with its emphasis on scholarships to provide access, and we’ve invested — next year will be the 4th year in a row in which financial aid will be the single largest discretionary portion of our budget.
- These approaches allow us to repackage existing investments, lean harder on our Campaign, build on recent federal changes to Pell grants, and make a commitment to middle and low-income families. It’s not a commitment that’s hidden behind policy jargon like FAFSA, EFC, or level III financial need.
- It’s a commitment that says — simply and unequivocally — that we won’t back away from our Land Grant University heritage of ensuring that children of Colorado families can afford an excellent education at one of the world’s leading research universities.
- CSU’s Commitment to Colorado is this: If you’re a Colorado student whose family income is $57,000 or less — the median family income in our state — we will provide financial aid — not including loans — such that you won’t pay more than half the tuition at CSU. And if you’re from a lower income family that is eligible for a federal Pell Grant, you won’t pay tuition or fees to attend CSU.
- We’re doing this because Colorado’s economic future depends on exactly the kind of education CSU offers — with exceptional programs in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.
- We’re doing this because we know that an investment in a bachelor’s degree halves the rate of unemployment and increases a person’s lifetime earnings dramatically, with the average graduating class repaying the state’s investment in less than 5 years and — via the taxes on their higher, college-related incomes — then becoming a long-term revenue center for the state.
- We’re doing this because the boy from the eastern plains who has the ability to be a renewable energy engineer shouldn’t have to repair small engines because of his family’s income. Because the young woman from the urban corridor who has the potential to contribute so much to so many as a teacher shouldn’t be limited to providing child care from her home. Because the girl on the western slope who could be a physician shouldn’t be confined to being a receptionist in a doctor’s office simply because her parents didn’t go to college.
- We’re doing this because in America we chip in so we can take advantage of each other’s gifts and talents.
- The Commitment to Colorado is CSU’s 21st century version of Lincoln’s American idea — education opening doors of opportunity — and it’s a commitment we’re proud to make to Colorado.