CMC offers nation’s 3rd-most affordable bachelor’s degree |

CMC offers nation’s 3rd-most affordable bachelor’s degree

Debra Crawford
Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College was just named the nation’s third-most-affordable college for obtaining a bachelor’s degree, in a report from the U.S. Department of Education. It is the only institution in Colorado listed among the country’s most affordable four-year institutions.

“We have always known that Colorado Mountain College presents an extraordinary value, so being recognized as offering the third-most-affordable bachelor’s degree in the country confirms that students at CMC are financially smart and receive a terrific advantage compared to their peers,” said Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of the college, which boasts seven campuses and 11 learning locations spread across the central Rocky Mountains. “With national student debt reaching $1.3 trillion and more jobs requiring a post-secondary degree or certificate, students and families are acutely aware of the importance of an affordable, high-quality education.”

On July 1 the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education College Affordability and Transparency released its annual list comparing the affordability of public and private colleges and universities, sorted by whether institutions grant four-year, two-year or less than two-year awards and degrees.

Based on 2013-14 tuition levels, CMC ranked third in the United States for lowest tuition among public four-year institutions, behind Dine College and Haskell Indian Nations University. The institutions ranked first and second are both tribal colleges. According to the Department of Education list, Colorado Mountain College is the most affordable general (nonspecialized) public four-year institution in the nation.

News of the affordability ranking comes at the end of an academic year in which the college was named by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges, allowing it to compete for the coveted Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

“Our students often tell us that they are initially attracted to CMC because of its cost, but believe the college’s real value is the individualized attention and top-quality instruction found in our classrooms — whether they are pursuing a certificate, an associate or bachelor’s degree or taking a class or two to retrain or keep their skills fresh,” said Dr. Matt Gianneschi, chief operating officer and chief of staff for the college.

Third time college listed among most affordable

This is the third year running that the U.S. Department of Education has listed Colorado Mountain College among the nation’s most affordable colleges. Initially CMC was included in the two-year category, but then transitioned to the four-year list after it started to offer bachelor’s degrees in 2011. The college now has four-year degrees in five areas: sustainability studies, business, nursing, teacher education and applied science.

The U.S. Department of Education’s report also found that the average net cost of attendance at CMC increased the fourth most in the country from 2010-11 to 2012-13. This is expected to be a one-time skewed jump because the Department of Education blended the college’s associate-level and bachelor-level tuition rates in the most recent year reported.

For in-district students, CMC currently charges $57 per credit hour for lower-level (100- and 200-level) courses and $99-$139 per credit hour for upper-level (300- and 400-level) courses, depending on the program.

For the 2015-16 academic year, the college’s elected board of trustees voted for no increase in associate-level tuition for in-district students, and no increase in bachelor’s-level tuition for all students. At the time of that vote, in January, the trustees indicated strong support for freezing bachelor’s-level tuition while gradually raising associate-level tuition, in order to grow into uniform, simple tuition rates across all levels of instruction.

To see the complete listings from the U.S. Department of Education, go to

Colorado Mountain College is located in Steamboat Springs, Rifle, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley, Aspen, Edwards, Dillon, Breckenridge, Leadville and Buena Vista. Of these locations, the three campuses in Spring Valley, Leadville and Steamboat Springs are residential. The college’s Central Services administrative offices, which serve all other locations, are located in downtown Glenwood Springs.

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