CMC ranked third 
in U.S. in affordability

Colorado Mountain College has been ranked third nationwide for affordability among public four-year colleges.

The ranking by the U.S. Department of Education’s web-based College Affordability and Transparency Center,, was for the 2011-12 school year.

CMC spokeswoman Debbie Crawford said that at a time of concern about how expensive colleges have become, CMC will be sure to use the ranking in its marketing. She noted that CNNMoney also recently ranked it 17th among nearly 800 U.S. community colleges, and tops in Colorado, for its success as measured by rates of graduation and transfers of its two-year students into four-year programs.

“I think people don’t realize what a great value we are,” she said.

CMC, based in Glenwood Springs, has locations from Rifle to Dillon and Steamboat Springs to Buena Vista. Primarily a two-year college, it also began offering bachelor’s degrees in business administration and sustainability studies in 2011-12, and it is hoping to soon add three more bachelor’s degree programs.

The Department of Education reports that CMC’s annual tuition and fees for a beginning in-district full-time student for 2011-12 were $1,770, compared to a national average of $7,135.

CMC was the only Colorado institution to be included in the ranking, which included the most affordable 10 percent of public four-year colleges.

Colorado School of Mines ranked fifth among public four-year schools for highest tuition and fee costs for the same year, at $14,453.

CMC’s ranking is somewhat skewed because it doesn’t reflect that the college charges a high in-district tuition ($95 per credit hour versus $56 per credit hour) for upper-level courses. That’s because its approval to offer bachelor’s degrees came with the stipulation that it would get no additional state funding and those degree programs would have to be self-supporting.

However, Crawford said that even if those two rates had been averaged, CMC would have ranked among the top 10 public four-year colleges nationally for affordability.

Had it been ranked among two-year public colleges, it wouldn’t have made the list of least expensive 10 percent, but would have been well below the national average of $2,905.

Crawford said CMC benefits by also receiving local property taxes, which make up 71 percent of its budget, and its trustees have insisted on keeping tuition rates affordable.

Among four-year colleges, CMC ranked 14th-least-expensive nationally in 2009-10, at $2,740, based on net price, which also includes other expenses such as room and board, minus average grant and scholarship aid.


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