Debt-free community college

Today I’m announcing my commitment, if elected, to propose a bill that would grant free community college and skills training for all Coloradans.

Before you reach for your TABOR concerns and state budget pie charts... I have excellent news: we can provide this to the people of our great state at a relatively low cost. Similar programs have already found bipartisan success in Tennessee and Rhode Island.

Colorado can provide free tuition for 2-year college and post-secondary skills training by offering what is called a Last Dollar Scholarship. Such a program fills the gap between a student’s financial aid, other scholarships, and their remaining tuition bill, becoming the “last dollar” needed to attend college.

In Rhode Island this program has been met with resounding success and at an average cost to the state of less than $1,000 per student¹. It doesn’t sound like much, but for the student who yearns to continue their education but can’t afford it… sometimes trying to come up with $400 might as well be $40,000. Colorado can provide students with the bridge to a better future.

Community college, skills training, and apprenticeships are the unsung heroes of continuing education. Not only do they stimulate economic growth, make Colorado more attractive to employers, and fight cycles of poverty… these programs offer a debt-free path to a better job for the people who work for it.

Leaders of both parties should come together to support this program; if done well it can pay for itself in economic growth alone. To say nothing of being the right thing to do for Colorado’s next generation.

I’d like to commend Sen. Mike Johnston for being the first gubernatorial candidate to propose such a program, but no matter who resides in the Governor’s mansion next year I promise to put a bill before the legislature to launch this initiative. It’s the right choice for business, students, the economy, and the future of Colorado.

Here are some of the additional details of the proposal:

  • Applicants must be Colorado residents and qualify for in-state tuition

  • Students must maintain good academic standing to be (and remain) eligible

  • Students must enroll full-time and make substantial progress toward completion of their program each semester

  • Students must commit to working in Colorado for 3-5 years after graduation


Barrett Rothe Candidate for House District 43

Barrett Rothe
Candidate for House District 43


¹ Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI), How to be a modern democrat and win. (Jan. 18, 2018). Freakanomics Radio.

Barrett Rothe