CMC ranked third most affordable in country for bachelor’s degree |

CMC ranked third most affordable in country for bachelor’s degree

Instructor Rebecca Potter leads a discussion in her Ethnic Literature course at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon.
Brian Ray

— Colorado Mountain College is ranked third in affordability nationwide for getting a bachelor’s degree according to the U.S. Department of Education, college officials announced earlier this month.

The college was ranked below two tribal colleges on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education College Affordability and Transparency’s annual list, meaning CMC is the most affordable non-specialized college in the country.

“Our trustees have really prioritized maintaining our affordability,” said Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of the college.

The ranking was released July 1 and is based on 2013-14 tuition levels.

Based on the college’s priority to remain affordable, Besnette Hauser said she’s hopeful the college will remain near the top of the list in the future.

For the current and upcoming school year, CMC charges in-district students $57 per credit hour for lower level courses and $99 to $139 per credit hour for upper division classes.

In-state tuition was raised for the upcoming year by $6.50 per credit hour to $107, and tuition for students living within the college’s service area counties (Chaffee, Grand and Jackson) increased by $6 per credit hour to $103 for the upcoming year.

Out of state student tuition also increased for the upcoming year by $56 per credit hour to $373, an 18 percent increase necessary to offset rising costs not covered by local property taxes.

The college is able to maintain its affordability because a large portion of its funding comes from local property taxes, while other colleges are more reliant on state funding, Besnette Hauser said.

Other colleges more reliant on the state for funding have been forced to increase tuition as the state has contributed less to higher education during the past 15 to 20 years, she said.

“The state has completely divested in higher education funding,” Besnette Hauser said. “And we have a more diversified portfolio for our budget.”

CMC was included on the U.S. Department of Education’s list during the previous two years, initially on the department list of two-year colleges, and later on the four-year college list, following CMC’s decision to offer bachelor’s degrees.

The college now offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainability studies, business, nursing, teacher education and applied science.

While low cost attracts a lot of students to CMC, college officials said the school’s high quality education is what keeps students around.

“Our students often tell us that they are initially attracted to CMC because of its cost, but believe the college’s real value is the individualized attention and top quality instruction found in our classrooms,” said Matt Gianneschi, COO and chief of staff for the college, in a release.

To see full reports of highest and lowest tuition by institution type, visit

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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