Delta County high school seniors will get a crack at over $86,000 in potential scholarships thanks to a joint effort between the county and Colorado Mesa University.

Scholarship money comes from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) program signed into law in 2014. The program administered through the Colorado Department of Higher Education helps leverage state funds by generating local giving to increase scholarship dollars primarily for middle to low income families.

In this case CMU matched the state funds allocated to Delta County with an additional $43,075 for a total of $86,150 in scholarship funds for local students who qualify.

“The way it works is the county is allocated the money and they have to partner with a non-profit or organization of higher education. So, they partnered with the CMU Foundation. It was up to us then to work with them to find a partner. In this instance, CMU is actually making the investment to match the scholarship funds,” said Rick Adleman, CMU associate director of development.

Adleman said the college’s president of external affairs spoke with Delta County Commissioners on Feb. 10, 2021 to get approval on the COSI funding partnership.

“I think it’s great for the commissioners to do this and invest in the community and for the school to be a part of it,” he said.

Interested students can apply through CMU’s financial aid department or admission’s office. Adleman said students can also speak directly with Brendan Ryan who works specifically with Delta County students.

Adleman said there are certain qualifications for the Delta County COSI scholarships including students who are 250% of Pell grant eligibility as determined from their FAFSA (federal student aid) form. Students living on campus will be given preference.

“We really appreciate working with the county so this money doesn’t sit in Denver and we appreciate the university making the investment to make sure we can match the grant, if we don’t match it we can’t get it out,” said Adleman, a Delta High School alumni.

“To be able to be a part of helping Delta students get a chance at a higher education is rewarding to me,” said Adleman, who anticipates that Delta County individual scholarships could average around $4,000 each depending on individual needs.

The scholarships are available for the 2021-22 school year. Adleman said students attending the second semester can also apply; however, he cautioned that scholarship funds may be depleted by then.

Once students are granted the COSI scholarship, they will have access to an advisor who will provide “holistic support” to the scholarship recipients. They can receive guidance on their FAFSA, class registration advice, or sage advice.

“Scholarship amounts vary from student to student so, it’s really based off their financial aid packet and how much they’ve already been awarded,” said Michael Bacciarini, COSI advisor, in a YouTube video.

“The goal of COSI is to essentially level the playing field here at CMU by providing more access to education in the form of financial support and holistic support with the advisors. We aim to increase the educational attainment rate of the Western Slope and Colorado in general,” Bacciarini said.

The COSI program also offers a Displaced Worker Grant that helps those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first five years, the COSI program awarded $47 million of state funds while leveraging $28 million in additional local and private dollars. The program has served more than 75,000 students in 61 of the 64 Colorado counties, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education website.

The COSI scholarship program is also available to Mesa and Montrose County students. For more information contact CMU or go online to coloradomesa.edu/student-success/cosi/index.html

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