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College Opportunity Fund

COF process – What you NEED to know

The College Opportunity Fund (COF) is a state stipend for Colorado residents.  This is considered the state portion of your tuition.  The COF stipend will lower your tuition bill by $64 per credit.  You must be classified as a Colorado resident for tuition purposes and complete the COF process.  COF is a two-step process.

*It will take 3-4 business days for the COF stipend to appear on your tuition bill once you have completed the COF process and registered for classes. 

Please be sure to complete this process and review the tuition table and your tuition bill each semester to ensure you are being charged the correct amount. 

You can use up to 145 COF credits

If you go over this amount, you have options! 

Post-Bachelor Waiver

  • Do you already have a bachelor’s degree? Great!  If so, you may be eligible for a 30 hour post bachelor waiver (unofficial or official transcript showing degree conferred is required).  We need your transcript to send to COF.  You can scan and email the copy to COF@rrcc.edu, fax a copy to 303.989.6919, drop a copy off in Student Records at the Lakewood campus, or have a copy sent to the address below:

    Jennifer Broadwater, COF Advisor
    Box 8 13300 West Sixth Avenue
    Lakewood, CO 80228-1255

Institutional Waiver

  • Red Rocks Community College can issue a one-time, one year institutional waiver. If you have exhausted the post-bachelor waiver or are ineligible for a post-bachelor waiver, you can apply to the college for a one-time, one year waiver from RRCC.  This waiver will be valid at RRCC for three consecutive semesters.  Please complete the institutional waiver form (.pdf) and return to the COF Advisor.  You can scan and email it to COF@rrcc.edu, fax it to 303.989.6919, drop it off in Student Records at the Lakewood campus, or mail it to the address below:

    Jennifer Broadwater, COF Advisor
    Box 8 13300 West Sixth Avenue
    Lakewood, CO 80228-1255

* Please be sure to include the total credits you need for three consecutive semesters.  Once the number of credits has been added into your student account, we cannot add any additional credits.  If you do not use the credits requested within the timeframe specified, they will not carry over for additional semesters.

CCHE Waiver

  • If you are ineligible/exhausted the post-bachelor waiver and institutional waiver, you can apply to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) for a waiver. The law allows for CCHE to grant waivers to a student:
    • If there are extenuating circumstances related to the student's health or physical ability that restrict a student's ability to complete the degree program within the 145-credit-hour limit;
    • If the degree program, as approved by the college or CCHE, requires more hours to complete than the 145 credit hour limit allows;
    • If the student is enrolled in a specific degree program and CCHE approves and the college changes a specific program's degree requirements or standards; or
    • If requiring that an eligible undergraduate student pay the full amount of total in-state tuition for credit hours that exceed the limitation causes substantial economic hardship for the student or the student's family.

Please contact the COF Advisor to see which waiver you are eligible for and to start the process (COF@rrcc.edu, 303.914.6254).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is The College Opportunity Fund (COF)?

The College Opportunity Fund (COF), created by the Colorado Legislature, provides a stipend to eligible undergraduate students. The stipend pays a portion of your total in-state tuition when you attend a participating college.

Eligible undergraduate students must apply, be admitted and enroll in classes at a participating college to receive this benefit. Both new and continuing students are eligible for the stipend.

Qualifying students may use the stipend for eligible undergraduate classes. The stipend is paid on a per credit hour basis directly to the college at which the student is enrolled. The credit-hour amount is set annually by the General Assembly.

What is a stipend?

"Stipend" means the amount of money per credit hour paid by the state of Colorado on behalf of an eligible undergraduate student who is attending a participating college in the state of Colorado.

The specified amount of the stipend per credit hour is set annually by the Colorado General Assembly. The amount will never exceed the student's total in-state tuition. The value of the per credit hour stipend will be the same for each eligible undergraduate student attending a participating state college.

If an eligible undergraduate student attends a participating private college in the state of Colorado, the per credit hour amount is fifty percent (50%) of the annually set stipend amount.

Total stipend hours per student, per semester, are reported to the College Opportunity Fund (COF) by the college you are attending. COF matches the student information provided by the college with Stipend Application Account information in its database (the information you provided when you created your stipend account) and disburses the stipend amount requested directly to the college.

Who is eligible?

Eligibility is determined by the type of college you attend.

If you attend a participating public college:

  • Undergraduate students enrolled at public colleges are eligible if they are classified as in-state students for tuition purposes. This is determined by the college.

If you attend a participating private college:

  • Undergraduate students enrolled at participating private colleges may be eligible if the college is approved for the program by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the student:
  • is classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes
  • is a graduate of a Colorado high school or has successfully completed a non-public home-based educational program in Colorado; Demonstrates financial need through the student's eligibility for the federal Pell Grant, or its successor program;
  • is not pursuing a professional degree in theology; and
  • meets any other eligibility requirements established by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE).

Note: "Eligible Undergraduate Student" does not include a student enrolled in an off-campus, extended campus, or continuing education class not supported by state general fund moneys, except as approved by CCHE.

At which colleges can I receive the College Opportunity Fund stipend credit?

The following four year public colleges:

  • Adams State University
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado State University-Pueblo
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Colorado Mesa University
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Colorado Springs
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Western State Colorado University

The following two year public colleges:

  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Colorado Northwestern Community College
  • Community College of Aurora
  • Community College of Denver
  • Front Range Community College
  • Lamar Community College
  • Morgan Community College
  • Northeastern Junior College
  • Otero Junior College
  • Pikes Peak Community College
  • Pueblo Community College
  • Red Rocks Community College
  • Trinidad State Junior College

The following private colleges:

  • Colorado Christian University
  • Regis University
  • University of Denver

How do I apply for the College Opportunity Fund Stipend?

You apply for the stipend by completing the online Stipend Application here or the paper application by emailing COF@rrcc.edu and requesting an application. When you complete the stipend application you create an account that is accessible to you. The college you attend will access this account information when it requests payment on your behalf.

Do I have to reapply each year?

No. You only apply once. When you complete the stipend application you create an account with 145 available undergraduate hours. You can apply the stipend funding for these hours at any participating college in the state of Colorado if you meet the eligibility requirements.

How old do I have to be to apply for the College Opportunity Fund?

You can apply for the College Opportunity Fund if you are thirteen years or older. If you are under the age of 13 and wish to enroll in a college class you are still eligible to receive the stipend if you meet the eligibility requirements, but you must contact the COF advisor at COF@rrcc.edu or 303.914.6254.

How does my college know that I have applied for the stipend?

RRCC sends COF a file containing the names of students who are enrolled each semester. The COF system will process this file and return it to the college. This file will let the college know which students have COF accounts and which students still need to apply and/or authorize their account and if you have enough COF credits. If you have a COF account and the personal information you provided to the college is the same as you used to create your account and you have authorized COF at RRCC, the stipend will be approved for payment at your college.

I've completed the Stipend Application -- is there anything else I have to do?

Completing the Stipend Application is all you need to do to apply for the Stipend. You will also have to authorize RRCC to send this request for payment on your behalf. RRCC will let COF know you are enrolled and the number of eligible stipend credit hours you are taking each term. COF will send the stipend amount on your behalf to RRCC to apply against your total in-state tuition charges each term. You will see the College Opportunity Fund Stipend credited against your total in-state tuition charge on your bill.

How does the Stipend get sent to my college?

You authorize your college to request the stipend funding on your behalf from your COF stipend account. This authorization step is completed when you register for your classes and is part of the registration process. If you have registered for classes but do not know if you have authorized the college to request your COF stipend, contact the COF advisor at COF@rrcc.edu or 303.914.6254.  Many colleges give you the option to select a “lifetime” option. If you choose the “lifetime” option you will not need to authorize RRCC every term to send a request for payment to COF. However, if you transfer colleges or take a class at a different college, the “lifetime” option does not extend to that new college. You will have to authorize each school you attend to bill COF for the classes you take.

I am transferring from one college to another. How do I transfer my College Opportunity Fund account to my new college?

When you applied for the stipend and created your COF stipend account, you were not asked for any college information. That's because students transfer from one college to another, or take classes at more than one college during a semester. You can use your stipend funding as long as you are enrolled in a Colorado public or private college that is participating in the stipend program and meet the eligibility requirements. When you register for your classes you authorize your college to request the stipend funding on your behalf. Your authorization is the trigger for your new college to request the funding from your COF stipend account.

If I take classes at more than one college during a semester can I receive COF at both colleges?

Yes. As long as the college is participating in this state funding program, you meet the eligibility requirements, you have authorized the college to bill COF, and you have unused COF credits remaining on your account.

Will the College Opportunity Fund pay for all of my courses?

No, the following courses will NOT be paid for by the College Opportunity Fund:

  • International baccalaureate courses;
  • Advanced placement courses;
  • Off-campus, extended campus, or continuing education classes not supported by state general fund moneys, except as approved by CCHE.


I am a transfer student, am I eligible for the College Opportunity Fund?

If you are an undergraduate student transferring from an out of state college to a participating college in the state of Colorado and meet the eligibility requirements for that college you are eligible for the College Opportunity Fund.

Will the stipend pay for all of my in-state tuition?

No, the stipend only covers the amount set each year by the Colorado Legislature. You still must pay the remainder of in-state tuition (the student’s share). Please review the tuition table for details.

Your tuition bill will show the total in-state tuition, the amount paid by COF (the state's share) and the portion for which you are personally responsible (the student's share). You will pay the total in-state tuition minus the portion paid by the College Opportunity Fund, minus any financial aid you receive.

How much is the College Opportunity Fund stipend worth?

The amount for academic year 2013-2014 has been set at $64 per semester credit hour for eligible students attending participating public colleges and $32 per semester credit hour for eligible students attending participating private colleges. The new stipend amount will begin with the Fall 2013 semester and remain the same through Summer 2014 for students who attend a semester based college or from Quarter 1 2013 through Quarter 4 2014 for students who attend a college on a quarter hour based system.

How many credit hours will be paid for by the stipend?

The law that created the College Opportunity Fund caps a student's eligibility for this state funding at 145 credit hours. However, there are exceptions and waivers that can be granted by the college and by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). Colleges and CCHE have developed policies to inform students about the exceptions and how to apply. In addition, if the student receives a bachelor's degree from an approved college, the student is eligible to receive stipend funding for an additional 30 hours of undergraduate credits.

What if I go over the cap (145) hours, who should I talk with and what is the process?

If the student exhausts the 145-hour lifetime-credit-hour cap, the student may be eligible for a waiver. There are three different types of waivers the student may apply for.

  • Post-Bachelor Waiver – If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree you may be eligible for a 30 hour post bachelor waiver (unofficial or official transcript showing degree conferred is required). We need your transcript to send to COF. You can scan and email the copy to COF@rrcc.edu, fax a copy to 303.989.6919, drop a copy off in Student Records at the Lakewood campus, or have a copy sent to the address below:

    Jennifer Panetta, COF Advisor
    Box 8 13300 West Sixth Avenue
    Lakewood, CO 80228-1255

  • Institutional Waiver - Red Rocks Community College can issue a one-time, one year institutional waiver. If you have exhausted the post-bachelor waiver or are ineligible for a post-bachelor waiver, you can apply to the college for a one-time, one year waiver from RRCC. This waiver will be valid at RRCC for three consecutive semesters. Please complete the institutional waiver form (.pdf) and return to the COF Advisor. You can scan and email it to COF@rrcc.edu, fax it to 303.989.6919, drop it off in Student Records at the Lakewood campus, or mail it to the address below:

    Jennifer Panetta, COF Advisor
    Box 8 13300 West Sixth Avenue
    Lakewood, CO 80228-1255

    * Please be sure to include the total credits you need for three consecutive semesters. Once the number of credits has been added into your student account, we cannot add any additional credits. If you do not use the credits requested within the timeframe specified, they will not carry over for additional semesters.

  • CCHE Waiver - If you are ineligible/exhausted the post-bachelor waiver and institutional waiver, you can apply to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) for a waiver. The law allows for CCHE to grant waivers to a student:
    • If there are extenuating circumstances related to the student's health or physical ability that restrict a student's ability to complete the degree program within the 145-credit-hour limit;
      If the degree program, as approved by the college or CCHE, requires more hours to complete than the 145 credit hour limit allows;
    • If the student is enrolled in a specific degree program and CCHE approves and the college changes a specific program's degree requirements or standards; or
    • If requiring that an eligible undergraduate student pay the full amount of total in-state tuition for credit hours that exceed the limitation causes substantial economic hardship for the student or the student's family.

Please contact the COF Advisor to see which waiver you are eligible for and to start the process (COF@rrcc.edu, 303.914.6254).

How is the College Opportunity Fund different from state funding prior to July 2005?

Public colleges have historically received funding directly from the state of Colorado in the form of a general fund subsidy to educate in-state higher education students based on a full-time-equivalent student formula. This funding method changed beginning July 2005 when the College Opportunity Fund stipend went into effect. The stipend for eligible undergraduate students now goes to the college on behalf of the student and the amount is based on the number of credit hours the student registers for each semester.

Does the College Opportunity Fund replace financial aid?

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. The College Opportunity Fund stipend is not a grant or a scholarship and does not impact your eligibility for student financial aid. The College Opportunity Fund is not a loan and does not have to be repaid.

Will the College Opportunity Fund affect financial aid?

No. COF is not income based or related to financial aid in any way. You qualify for COF based on residency.

Will a check be sent to me?

No, the College Opportunity Fund stipend goes directly to the college or colleges where you are enrolled. The stipend amount will be applied directly to your student account each term in accordance with the amount established for that year and the number of credits you are enrolled. For example, if you are attending a public college for the Summer 2013 semester and are enrolled in 15 credit hours, the stipend amount credited to your total in-state tuition would be $930.00. No dollar amounts are available on your Stipend Account at COF. However you will be able to see how many credit hours of the 145 limit you have used by term, by college, when you log into your COF account. This will help you plan your higher education to best use the stipend credit hours.

Why do I have hours reported as used against my Stipend Account if the College Opportunity Fund did not begin until July 2005?

The law that created the College Opportunity Fund stated that for an eligible undergraduate student enrolled in college as a continuing student as of July 1, 2005 the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) must determine the number of credit hours that student has already earned. If you were enrolled in a state college or university for either Fall 2004 and/or Spring 2005 your class level was reported by your college to CCHE and those hours appear on your Stipend Account as "Hours used prior to fall 2005." CCHE determined the number of hours earned by assigning each continuing student a class level and each class level a number of credits used, as follows:

Class Level Hours Used:

  • Freshman- 0
  • Sophomore-30
  • Junior-60
  • Senior-90

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Questions?
Email: COF@rrcc.edu

Call: 720.264.8550 or
1.800.777.2757

or contact:
Jennifer Broadwater COF Advisor
jennifer.broadwater@rrcc.edu
303.914.6254