ASC Trustees endorse Colorado Promise Scholarship

(09-02-2008)

The Board of Trustees for Adams State College at its Aug. 29 meeting passed a resolution endorsing Ballot Initiative 113, which proposes to create the Colorado Promise Scholarship by eliminating a tax credit for large oil and gas companies. If approved by Colorado voters in November, the initiative would double the amount of need-based scholarships available to resident students attending public institutions of higher education.

The resolution, proposed by ASC Board Vice Chair Peggy Lamm, notes the scholarship program would help maintain the affordability of Adams State College by offering more aid to lower and middle income families in the state. Roughly two-thirds of Colorado families could qualify. The average family income of Adams State students receiving financial aid last year was just over $24,000. (Ninety-percent of the Adams State student body qualifies for aid.)

Lamm said, "I really believe it would have a positive impact on our students. It's a reasonable thing for us to endorse and support."

Colorado Promise Scholarships would follow a "shared responsibility" model, taking into consideration how much a family is expected to give toward college, how much a student can contribute, and what families can get from Pell and other federal grants. According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, average Colorado Promise Scholarship awards for eligible Adams State students could range from $2,000 to $2,750, with a maximum award of $5,500 for those in the lowest income category.

Ballot Initiative 113 proposes to repeal a tax credit enacted in the late 1970s to help the energy industry become established in Colorado. The credit allows energy companies to subtract 87.5 percent of their property tax bills from the severance taxes they owe on oil and gas extracted in the state. The credit currently amounts to roughly $300 million a year. Governor Bill Ritter said now that Colorado's energy industry is thriving, the credit is no longer necessary. According to the Consumer Federation of America, Colorado produced $6.63 billion worth of oil and gas last year, or about 6.2 percent of total U.S. production.

It is estimated the Initiative 113 would raise $250-$325 million a year, with 60 percent going to the Colorado Promise Scholarship Fund. Of the remaining funds, 10 percent would be funneled to renewable energy projects, 15 percent to wildlife habitat, and 15 percent to water quality and transportation projects in communities where oil and gas producers operate.

The Adams State Board of Trustees joins a long list of initiative supporters, including the University of Northern Colorado trustees and the presidents of the University of Colorado, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University system, Western State College, Metro State College, and the Colorado Community College System.

By Julie Waechter