Sometimes things work out in just the right way. The history of CSU-Global, headquartered in Greenwood Village, is one of those stories. Launched in 2007 as the nation’s first nonprofit fully online state university (it is part of the of the Colorado State University system), its first class had 200 students. Today, it offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in career-oriented fields from business to education to health services and law enforcement. With 18,000 students currently enrolled, CSU-Global is fully accredited and has already awarded degrees to 10,000 students. A model of transparency, CSU-Global lists each of its over 400 instructors on its website, along with their educational credentials.
Initially envisioned as an institution whose mission was to serve working adults who had not completed their bachelor’s degrees or were seeking master’s degrees, Andrew Dixon, Director of Marketing, told local business and government leaders at a South Metro Denver Chamber program March 9, that the average age of CSU-Global students is 35. He also emphasized CSU-Global’s close connection with the local business community, making certain its course offerings lead to real jobs.
Having proved itself successful at serving older-student niche group, the university was approved to accept first-time freshman students in 2014, but the legislature limited that acceptance to out-of-state freshmen.
Online education, once presumed to be inferior to learning in a traditional classroom setting, has become acceptable and even preferable for many students, due to its flexibility and significantly lower cost. At $350 per credit hour, with no ancillary fees, CSU-Global compares favorably with its more traditional counterparts. CU-Boulder costs nearly $30,000 a year, all in. CSU-Fort Collins comes in at $24,000, and even Metro State University downtown isn’t much less expensive for students who don’t live at home with their parents.
Recognizing current realities, a group of four members of the Colorado legislature, comprised of a Democrat and a Republican from the statehouse and state senate, respectively, jointly sponsored Senate Bill 18-101, which was passed and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper March 22. It removes the restriction that prevented CSU-Global from accepting first-time in-state college freshmen. Providing this option to Colorado high school graduate students and their parents opens a new avenue and a new option—a low-cost, accredited college education from a nonprofit, recognized major state university in our own backyard that can be completed on a schedule that works best for the individual student.
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