Montrose, CO – Montrose is a wonderful place to live, work, play, and best of all, pursue higher education for any 2018 high school graduates looking for great educational opportunities here at home. The City of Montrose, Montrose County and Colorado Mesa University (CMU) have developed a unique partnership to aid Montrose area graduates with the creation of the Montrose Success Fund.
Recognizing the growing demand of a college education for successful employment throughout the region, the Montrose Success Fund will be used as a scholarship pool to help make programs at CMU and Western Colorado Community College accessible to students graduating from Montrose County School District high schools and Nucla High School.
The City has pledged $100,000 to the fund to go along with the County's $85,000 commitment. Those investments will join with existing grant and scholarship funds from CMU and the CMU Foundation. The long-term goal of these educational contributions is to strengthen the regional workforce and inspire companies to consider the Montrose area in future investments.
City Councilor Judy Ann Files was part of the effort to create the fund. She said the program was designed to attract area students who may not leave the area to attend post-secondary education.
“The City’s goal is to help grow our campus here in town. So we feel the best place to start is growing the number of students. So when we grow students that will grow the program and that will grow the campus. Secondarily, anything we can do to help educate the young people who live in our community, the whole community is better off,” Files said.
According to the National Student Clearinghouse, less than 49 percent of MCSD graduates further their education within the first year of graduation.
“To get a good paying job in today’s economy, requires some form postsecondary education after high school,” said Gary Ratcliff, Director of the Montrose campus of Colorado Mesa University. “Whether it is a one-year certificate program or a four-year bachelor’s degree, high school graduates who pursue a college education earn more and experience less unemployment than peers who do not.”
Students receiving scholarships funded by the City of Montrose must attend the CMU Montrose Campus. Students receiving scholarship funds from Montrose County must attend CMU Montrose, CMU Grand Junction, or Western Colorado Community College.
Ratcliff is one of the primary points of contact for students seeking to access this scholarship fund, the other is CMU College and Career Advisor Jeff Turner.
Working with prospective students, these administrators will gather all relevant financial information to develop aid packages for each student based on their financial need. For example, after accepting a federal Pell Grant, a Colorado State Grant, potential CMU merit-based scholarships or CMUF private scholarships, one student may only need $500 more to enroll in a CMU/WCCC program while another student may need $2,000 after examining other aid availability.
Through this process, the Montrose Success Fund will serve as the “last dollar-in” scholarship that creates the tipping point where students dedicate themselves to attending college.
Any un-awarded funds from the City of Montrose shall be designated to 2018 capital improvements for welding or technical education at Montrose Campus.
Other criteria for students to access the Montrose Success Fund will include:
• A 2.0 GPA
• 2018 Montrose County School District graduate (MHS, OMHS, Peak, Vista) or
2018 Nucla High School graduate.
• Met with the CMU College and Career Advisor Jeff Turner.
• Demonstrated financial need. Awards for full-time students (at least 12 credit hours a semester) will vary based on students’ financial need; awards for part-time students (11 credit hours a semester or less) shall not exceed $500.
Montrose County Commissioners Roger Rash and Glen Davis encourage all students in the Class of 2018 to apply. “Local opportunities to pursue higher education are key to providing a skilled and talented workforce. Often times the cost of getting an education can discourage our youth from pursuing postsecondary education or training. Montrose Success Fund provides a chance for students to take one step closer to attaining a degree or certification,” Rash said.
Glen Davis concurred. “In order to move our economy forward, there has to be the opportunity for education. We are happy to be in a situation where we can help students further their education. There are funds available, and so I’d like to encourage all graduating students in Montrose County School District and Nucla High School to apply.”
The Montrose Success Fund is a pilot program, and after gauging its success with 2018 Montrose County School District graduates, the fund could be continued into the future. Scholarships for continuing students will follow the same academic and financial criteria outlined above.