The Community Colleges of Colorado (CC of C) is a system composed of thirteen publicly supported community colleges serving the state of Colorado that are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. All participate in CCCOnline, a consortium of community colleges that have merged resources to create a number of online certificate and two-year degree programs. CCCOnline coordinates and facilitates the delivery of online courses and services to students enrolled in each college. Students are required to select a home college from which they will receive the certificate or degree. They enroll in courses offered through CCCOnline, which may be taught by faculty from another one of the colleges and include students from several institutions. The student's home college provides financial aid.
All system colleges offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business and an Associate of Arts degree using CCCOnline. System colleges plan to provide additional distance education certificates and degree programs through CCCOnline in the future.
The Community Colleges of Colorado were all given the 50% waivers, which were granted to all participants in the first cohort. They were also given waivers of the minimum number of weeks of instruction, and definition of a "week of instruction" (which together comprise the 12 hour rule). Additionally, they were given the SAP waiver, which relieves them of the requirement to consistently apply Satisfactory Academic Progress standards to all students within categories of students.
Financial Aid Issues/Alternatives
Under the Distance Education Demonstration Program, for the programs described above, the System has developed a new paradigm for delivering student financial assistance, which decouples the delivery of student aid for costs related to instruction, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment from costs relating to living expenses. The aid awarded for instructional costs will be disbursed based on student progress; for living expenses, on months elapsed. Thus, students would receive aid awarded for instructional costs as they completed various milestones in their educational programs, but would receive the aid awarded for living costs for the months they were actually enrolled.
The community colleges are phasing in the implementation of this model. Pikes Peak Community College began with the new approach in the spring 2001 semester. The others planned to implement during subsequent terms.
Further experimentation is limited by the inability to provide waivers of program disbursement rules.
Although it is too early to begin to see effects within the project several important implications for this project have emerged.
The CC of C model of Student Based Aid seems to be a promising process for allowing the institution to create a variety of models of instructional delivery with various calendars within the same institution. Financial aid will be able to create enough flexibility and increasing accountability for federal Title IV funds.
Students may be aided for enrollment in instructional courses starting any day of the year and ending on any day of the year
Students will be prevented from receiving more aid than they are entitled. Aid will be provided in a "just-in-time" environment thus potentially reducing the amount of aid drawn early for the student.
Student progress may be measured continuously and feedback provided to the student and the institution about the amount of aid remaining and student progress.
Changes to financial aid regulatory and campus delivery processes must be made hand in hand with changes to campus computer systems.
Financial aid is one of the most highly automated environments on campus. Making what at first seemed like small changes by redefining disbursement concepts has meant rethinking how each distance education student interfaces with a myriad of computer processes designed to get the right amount of aid to the right student at the right time.
Demonstration Program Cohort
The Community Colleges of Colorado joined the Distance Education Demonstration Program in July 1999 as part of the initial cohort.