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May 18, 2024

Gov. Polis Signs Two Bills to Support Students into Law

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two pieces of legislation to support Colorado students. SB24-164 will improve transparency surrounding higher education costs and reduce barriers to completing higher education degrees or certificate programs. HB24-1076 will create the Purple Star School Program to recognize K-12 public schools that provide support to military students and their families.

“Throughout my time as an educator and Chair of the Senate Education Committee, it became clear that bolstering the ways students can transfer hard-earned credits is essential to improving student outcomes,” said Senator Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, sponsor of SB24-164. “This new law is a pivotal step towards creating a more inclusive, transparent, and student-centric higher education system in Colorado. By prioritizing the needs of students, we can pave the way for greater educational outcomes and economic mobility for students and families.”

“Creating a more inclusive, transparent, and student-centric higher education system in Colorado means we put students first,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, sponsor of SB24-164. “This law will make it easier for students pursuing higher education in Colorado to understand the cost of their degree or certificate. It will also ensure that students transferring from a community college to a four year institution receive credits they deserve for the classes they’ve successfully completed.”

SB24-164 is also sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs. This law will make it easier to transfer college credits, improve transparency in higher education reporting, and ensure rights for students enrolled in postsecondary institutions.

Transparency requirements include:

  • Transparency of the cost of postsecondary education;

  • Seamless transfer of general education and transfer pathway courses;

  • Transparency regarding if credits are accepted or rejected from an institution; and

  • The ability to appeal an institution’s decision not to accept transfer credits.

A major challenge transfer students face is the transferability of postsecondary credits. On average, transfer students lose a full semester of credits, which translates to time and money lost. There are current methods that exist within Colorado’s higher education framework to ease transitions between higher education institutions such as transferable lower division courses, common course numbering, and guaranteed transfer pathways. SB24-164 will build on this framework by bolstering student rights and easing the transfer of course credits.

“Children of military families are especially vulnerable to the changes that come with moving schools, making new friends and joining extracurricular activities mid-season,” said Rep. Bob Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, sponsor of HB24-1076. “This legislation will help students that are part of military families during the transition process so they can focus on learning, growing and socializing within a program that fosters support.”

“Military families make big sacrifices to support service members and their communities, and it’s critical that we support them as well,” Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB24-1076. “This new law will help uplift kids in military families by making sure they get the support they need to thrive at school. I’m proud to sponsor this law that will help military family members get connected to the support and resources they deserve.”

“This important law uplifts our military families which strengthens communities, supports our workforce and recognizes the day-to-day sacrifices made by those who serve our nation and their families,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB24-1076. “As the representative for a community with a long tradition of military service, the bill getting signed into law today will help ease the school transition for kids in military families, making it easier to call our great state home.” 

HB24-1076, also sponsored by Senator Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, establishes the Purple Star School Program to designate and recognize K-12 public schools that show a strong commitment to military-connected students and their families. The Purple Star School Program has been adopted by 42 other states and is proven to help military-connected students combat the academic and socio-emotional challenges they often face due to frequent relocation, transferring schools, parental deployment and changing environments.

To qualify for the Purple Star designation, schools must:

  • Designate a staff member as a Military Liaison,

  • Maintain a website with resources for military-connected students and families,

  • Maintain student-led transition programs, and

  • Offer professional development opportunities relating to military-connected students.

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