MINES’ POLICY LIBRARY

College Opportunity Fund (COF) Waiver Policy

POLICY PROFILE

Responsible Administrative Unit: Finance & Administration

Policy Contact: Controller, Noelle Sanchez (nsanchez@mines.edu)

This policy is linked from the Financial and Student sections of the policy library.

1.0 BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The College Opportunity Fund (COF) provides state financial support directly to eligible students for higher education in Colorado. The COF was created by an Act of the Colorado State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Owens in May 2004. Since the COF was implemented in 2005, undergraduate students who are eligible for in-state tuition, and who are admitted and enrolled at a public institution receive a per credit-hour stipend from the COF.

The law creating the College Opportunity Fund caps an undergraduate student’s stipend eligibility at 145 credit-hours. However, waivers to the credit-hour limit may be granted in special circumstances by Mines orby the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to allow a limited number of COF credits to be granted beyond the 145 hour limit. A student is eligible to apply for a CCHE waiver only after their initial waiver request to the School has been denied. The following policy outlines the eligibility criteria and the process for obtaining a COF credit-hour limit waiver from the School.

2.0 POLICY

A limited number of waivers to the 145 credit-hour COF limitation may be granted by the Controller of the Colorado School of Mines. The number of waivers that can be approved by any institution in a fiscal year is limited by the State of Colorado. Per state statute, priority for waivers is to be given to students 1) who used COF credit for courses taken after July 1, 2006, as part of Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) or Fast Track programs, and 2) whose coursework is for purposes of job retraining. Beyond that, waivers will be granted according to the following eligibility criteria:

  • CCHE approved and the School implemented an alteration of degree requirements or standards for the specific degree while the student was enrolled in that degree program;
  • The degree program as approved by CCHE requires more than 120 hours to complete;
  • Extenuating circumstances existing outside the student’s control (health, physical ability, change of work hours/location) that would keep the student from finishing the degree program within the 145 lifetime credit-hour limit;
  • Paying the full amount of total in-state tuition for credit-hours that exceed the 145 COF credit-hour lifetime limit would cause a substantial economic hardship on the student and the student’s family;
  • The student is strategically pursuing a dual degree, double major, or combination of majors and/or minors in pursuit of a particular career goal.

Written justification for the waiver request must be provided by the student (see Attachment A: COF Waiver Request Form). In addition, the following information will be reviewed as part of the waiver request process:

  • The student’s academic transcript, to note academic progress including changes in major, course withdrawals, transfer status, etc.;
  • Research by the Bursar’s Office to determine if a previous tuition refund has already been granted. Note that a previous tuition refund would have resulted in a reduction of COF hours used proportional to the tuition refunded for a given term.
3.0 PROCEDURES

Requesting a Waiver

To request a waiver, undergraduate students must have used 120 or more COF hours toward the lifetime limit of 145. Students will be alerted via email when they have reached the 120-hour mark. Students may review their COF lifetime hours and hours-used balances as follows:

When a student reaches 120 COF hours, she or he must complete the COF Waiver Request Form (see Attachment A, which delineates waiver criteria along with suggestions of appropriate documentation to be included with the waiver request). The waiver request will be considered based on the materials provided by the student, and the information submitted by appropriate CSM offices as mentioned above.

Timing of Waiver Request

The request for a waiver of the lifetime credit-hour limit should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office no later than the last date to drop a full-term course with tuition adjustment (the census date) as noted on the academic calendar for each term. If circumstances warrant filing later than the dates listed above, consideration will be given if the limited number of institutional waivers has not been exhausted.

COF waivers should be sought before exceeding the 145 credit-hour lifetime limit. For consideration of a waiver, students should have less than 25 COF-eligible credit-hours remaining (i.e., cumulative COF hours used greater than or equal to 120). Students should file as early as they know there may be an issue. This process cannot apply retroactively to hours already taken in prior terms that exceeded the COF lifetime limit.

Approval of Waiver Request

Once submitted, the COF Waiver Request Forms will be processed by the Registrar’s and Bursar’s offices. Once processed, the Controller will review all waiver requests. If the Controller is unavailable, the Vice President for Finance and Administration will review waiver requests. If there is a question regarding a student’s academic progress, the Office of Academic Affairs will participate in the waiver approval process. Decisions will be finalized 30 days after the census date as noted on the academic calendar for each term. Students will be notified of a final decision in writing or via e-mail. Students who are denied a waiver from Mines may apply for a waiver from CCHE. The CCHE waiver form is available at:

http://www.state.co.us/cche/reforms/stipends/cofwaiver.pdf.

If the waiver request is approved and additional COF credit-hours are allowed, a tuition and fee bill will be recalculated, and COF lifetime hours will be adjusted. If approved, the student’s COF institutional waiver status will be reported to Colorado Student Loan Program.

Waivers will not be approved in the following cases:

  • A student has not made satisfactory academic progress;
  • A student has completed an undergraduate degree and has used the 30 post-baccalaureate degree COF credit-hours available.
4.0 RESPONSIBILITIES

Student:

Completes the COF Waiver Request Form when120 COF hours has been reached, being sure to attach necessary documentation.Turns in the COF Waiver Request Form to the Registrar’s Office no later than the census date for a given semester.If COF Waiver Request is denied by Mines, applies for a CCHE Waiver.

Registrar:

Researches academic records for students requesting COF Waivers.Flags Waiver Requests for students whose record of academic progress may not be satisfactory.Attaches transcripts to COF Waiver Forms and forwards to Bursar’s Office.

Bursar:

Researches financial records for students requesting COF Waivers and determines number of credit-hours that remain eligible for COF credit. Forwards research and COF Waiver Forms to Controller’s Office.

Office of Academic Affairs:

Participates in COF Waiver approval process for those students whose academic progress has been noted by the Registrar’s office as potentially unsatisfactory.

Controller:

Approves or denies COF Waiver Requests.

5.0 ATTACHMENTS

COF Waiver Request Form (See Pg 5 of PDF)

6.0 DISCLAIMER

Hours taken in excess of COF lifetime hours are calculated at full tuition, without credit for a COF stipend. Submitting a COF waiver request does not exempt students from tuition, fees, late and service charges or financial stops. Students must pay bills in full by the published deadlines.

The waiver request process does not address tuition refunds for course drop or withdrawal, class fees, late enrollment, grades or grade changes, tuition classification, academic advising or other academic policy or regulations. There are separate appellate procedures for those circumstances.

REVIEW CYCLE AND HISTORY

Issued: August 2007

Revised: September 2018