The Best Scholarships in Colorado

​College is an exciting time for most students and their families, but there's one part that strikes fear into the hearts of students, their parents, and quite a few economists: student loans. The average graduate of an undergraduate program in 2016 has more than $30,000 in student loan debt, and that number is only expected to increase with each successive graduating class. Though it might seem as if there's no way to escape this eventual reality, students should keep in mind that many scholarships exist to help offset the increasingly high cost of higher education.

In Colorado, students have many wonderful choices to offset the cost of their studies at the state's public and private universities. Whether it's a widely available program that all Colorado students qualify for or a niche program that focuses on certain majors, minority students, and community involvement, there is a scholarship program for everyone.

These generous financial aid programs add real peace of mind to the college process: They're generous, competitive, and granted without the expectation or requirement of repayment. Whether merit-based or need-based, these 35 scholarship programs fill the gap between state grants, federal grants, and university programs. For some students, they may very well eliminate the need for student loan programs altogether.​

1. MGMA Western Section Scholarships

Offered by the National Medical Group Management Association, the Western Section scholarship is sponsored by the western regional division of this medically-focused professional group. In order to qualify for the single, $2,500 scholarship award, students must be majoring in a medically-related subject area at a Colorado college or university. Colorado Students will be in competition with students from several other western states, making this a particularly competitive scholarship.

You can learn more about the ​MGMA Western Section Scholarships here

2. Partner Colorado Foundation Scholarships

Open to graduating high school seniors as well as continuing college and university students; the Partner Colorado Foundation scholarship program offers several scholarship awards to students between the ages of 17 and 40. In order to qualify, students must be Colorado residents who attend a Colorado college, university, or technical school, and must have at least a 2.0 GPA. Applications are reviewed annually, and students can apply during each of their four years of undergraduate study.

You can learn more about the ​Partner Colorado Foundation Scholarships here

3. Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarship

Eight annual scholarships are made available as part of this unique program, with a maximum award of $1,000. To qualify for this program, students must be enrolled in a technical school that offers coal mining management or practice courses. In addition to submitting a formal application, students will need to have a 2.0 minimum GPA and must be available for an in-person interview with the selection committee during the month of March.

You can learn more about the ​Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarship here

4. The CASFM Scholarship

This nonrenewable scholarship is designed to offset the cost of programs related to the Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers. Students who are enrolled in programs like hydrology, floodplain management, meteorology, climatology, and stormwater quality, should submit the personal application and a topical essay. The group selects several finalists each year for an in-person interview before deciding on the eventual winner.

You can learn more about the The CASFM Scholarship here

5. Carlos Martinez Kinnison Migrant Memorial Scholarship

This highly specific scholarship program is offered to migrant workers who perform agricultural work in Colorado, Texas, or both states throughout the year. To qualify for this unique program, applicants should be studying a medically-related program at an accredited institution in the state of Colorado. A single grant is awarded each year of $1,000. Though the program does not renew, applicants are eligible to reapply each year.

You can learn more about the ​Carlos Martinez Kinnison Migrant Memorial Scholarship here

6. Alice Hamilton Scholarship Fund

Offered by the Colorado Archaeological Society, this scholarship honors the memory of one of the organization's former members. The award is given each year in amounts from $200 to $750 to several students studying archaeology or a related field. Students must be Colorado residents who are studying at a Colorado university. Importantly, the application is considered solely based on the applicant's educational merits and not based on their financial need.

You can learn more about the ​Alice Hamilton Scholarship Fund here

7. Colorado Centennial Scholars-Colorado Graduate Scholarships

Designed as one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the state, this Colorado financial aid program is strictly merit-based and is targeted at some of the state's best students. Graduating high school seniors are eligible to apply for the program if they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.75. An application, essay, and official transcript are required. The award amount varies each year and is based strictly on a student's academic merit.

You can learn more about the ​Colorado Centennial Scholars-Colorado Graduate Scholarships here

8. Reed Penington Family Trust Scholarship

This need-based program is offered in partnership with Colorado universities. In order to be considered for the program, students should submit the FAFSA before their school's deadline and file a formal application with the financial aid office. Applications are submitted through participating universities, with winners selected by the Reed Pennington Foundation each spring. While the maximum award amount is $2,000, this amount will be adjusted based on the student's “expected family contribution” after submitting the FAFSA.

You can learn more about the ​Reed Penington Family Trust Scholarship here

9. Mildred S. Hansen Nursing Scholarship

Offered to students at the University of Northern Colorado, this unique program was designed to offset the cost of pursuing Nurse Practitioner certification. Students must submit an official UNC transcript, a formal application, and a required essay. A single winner is selected each spring. The winner will be featured on the scholarship's website.

You can learn more about the ​Mildred S. Hansen Nursing Scholarship here

10. Guardian Scholars Scholarship Program

Offered by the Vail Valley Foundation, this scholarship is available to all graduating Colorado high school seniors in Eagle County who have been part of the Foster Care system during any part of their educational career. In addition to a need-based scholarship that covers tuition and fees, winners become part of a unique mentoring program within the VVF that helps them work through academic and social issues that are common among many Foster Care "alumni."

You can learn more about the ​Guardian Scholars Scholarship Program here

11. American Council of Engineering Companies (Colorado) Scholarship

The Colorado chapter of ACEC offers engineering scholarships to students who are enrolled in an engineering program at a Colorado university. These scholarships are strictly merit-based. While the group awards up to $40,000 in scholarships annual, the largest award is a $17,500 grant, offered on a merit basis to the state's most promising undergraduate engineering student. Smaller awards of up to $1,000 are also available.

You can learn more about the ​American Council of Engineering Companies (Colorado) Scholarship here

12. The Alexander Foundation Scholarship

Colorado's Alexander Foundation is devoted to advocacy for, and financial support of, LGBT students throughout the state. As part of that commitment, the Alexander Foundation offers an annual scholarship to Colorado residents who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at a university in Colorado. Award amounts range from $300 to $3,000; while the award cannot be renewed, students can apply each year again until they have received a maximum of $9,000 in Alexander Foundation scholarship funds.

You can learn more about the ​The Alexander Foundation Scholarship here.

13. Credit Union of Colorado Foundation Scholarship

One of the state's newest scholarship programs, the Credit Union of Colorado Foundation offers annual awards of up to $5,000 for eight students. To be eligible, students must be Colorado residents attending a Colorado college or university, with a 3.5 high school or undergraduate GPA. The program does not renew automatically, but students can apply for up to four years in a row. Students should also be active in community service or engagement programs in order to maximize their chances at being selected for this program.

You can learn more about the ​Credit Union of Colorado Foundation Scholarship here

14. Burg Simpson's Preserving the Civil Jury System Scholarship

Graduating high school seniors at any school in Colorado are eligible to apply to this program. The stated goal of this scholarship is to encourage an interest in the American jury system. As such, applicants will need to submit an essay about the jury system, with the exact topic selected by the scholarship committee each year. Nine students will be chosen for the award. Eight winners are granted a $1,000 scholarship, while the remaining winner will be awarded a larger, $2,500 scholarship.

You can learn more about the ​Burg Simpson's Preserving the Civil Jury System Scholarship here

15. University of Colorado: First Generation Scholars Program

The University of Colorado at Boulder has established a program that rewards students for being the first in their family to pursue post-secondary training and education. Students whose parents have not received any education or technical training beyond high school, and who can provide documentation of this fact, are considered for the program. A maximum award of $2,000 is offered to Boulder freshmen, along with membership in the First Generation Scholars program for the duration of their time at the university.

You can learn more about the ​University of Colorado: First Generation Scholars Program here

16. Western Colorado Horticultural Society Scholarship

The Western Colorado Horticultural Society is one of several horticultural organizations offering scholarships to students who study a related field at a Colorado university. In order to qualify for the group's single, $1,000 scholarship, applicants must be Colorado high school graduates who are attending a public or private university in the state. The program is decided based solely on college major and academic merit, which means students will need to submit high school and/or college transcripts as part of the application package.

You can learn more about the ​Western Colorado Horticultural Society Scholarship here

17. The Pinnacol Foundation College Scholarship Program

This unique scholarship program offers an annual award to students whose parents have been injured or killed in a workplace accident. The program requires that applicants have at least a 2.0 GPA, are Colorado residents, and are attending a Colorado college or university. Applicants should also be between the ages of 16 and 25, and their parents should be able to provide Colorado Workers' Compensation documentation relating to the nature of their workplace injury.

You can learn more about The Pinnacol Foundation College Scholarship Program here​.

18. The Bradley D. Gendron Memorial Scholarship 

Offered by the National Diabetes Scholars' Foundation to students who reside in Colorado, the Bradley D. Gendron Memorial Scholarship is designed to help students with Type 1 diabetes afford the cost of higher education at a Colorado state college, university, or vocational school. In addition to a formal application and essay, students will need to submit medical information pertaining to their Type 1 diabetes diagnosis and treatment. A single award of $1,000 is offered each year.

You can learn more about the ​The Bradley D. Gendron Memorial Scholarship here

19. MCA Failure Fair Scholarship

Though this scholarship's name is a bit unconventional, it's one of the most creative efforts for students who are talented in visual arts and design. Named after Colorado's annual Failure Fair, the scholarship program offers eight $40,000 awards each year to students who submit a unique, creative idea for a Failure Fair event or presentation. Students must be Colorado residents attending a Colorado university, and must be able to present their proposal at the Failure Fair in order to receive the scholarship funds.

You can learn more about the MCA Failure Fair Scholarship here

20. A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship

One of the few scholarships & grants offered to Colorado’s Native American students, the A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship is offered each year to applicants who are members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. In addition to maintaining a 3.0 GPA while enrolled at a Colorado college or university, applicants must be able to prove membership, via blood test results, of an American Indian tribe, an Alaskan Native Village, or a Native Hawaiian group.

You can learn more about the ​A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship here

21. Colorado Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (CLEAP)

Offered to those with demonstrated financial need, all Colorado students are automatically considered for the CLEAP program upon submitting the FAFSA each year. CLEAP, which is the Colorado version of the federal Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program, matches state and federal financial aid dollars, up to $1,000 total, for low-income students. The grant can be offered in the form of a traditional grant or a community work-study assignment that allows the student to study and gain valuable work experience.

You can learn more about the ​Colorado Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (CLEAP) here

22. Daniels Fund Boundless Opportunity Scholarship

Provided in partnership with some of Colorado's largest public, private, and two-year colleges, the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship is offered by the Daniels Foundation to students who are either returning to college as adult learners or who are enrolling in college after earning a GED. The program is offered through the colleges and is typically granted upon filing the FAFSA and an institutional scholarship application. Award amounts vary from each college or university where the scholarship is offered.

You can learn more about the ​Daniels Fund Boundless Opportunity Scholarship here

23. Colorado Garden Foundation Scholarships

One of the largest statewide groups for horticulture advocacy, the Colorado Garden Foundation offers three scholarship programs to students attending college in Colorado. The "Full Ride Scholarship" pays for all expenses, including tuition, room, and board, for all four years of study; the "Graduate Scholarship" covers all costs for graduate students, and the "Undergraduate Scholarship" covers all college expenses for one year. Students must be studying horticulture, turfgrass management, landscape horticulture, plant pathology, botany, or landscape design at a Colorado college to qualify.

You can learn more about the ​Colorado Garden Foundation Scholarships here

24. The Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship Foundation

One of several scholarships & grants for cancer survivors at Colorado colleges, this program, offers an annual award of at least $1,000 to students who survived childhood cancer in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, and Montana. Applicants must submit their high school GPA, SAT or ACT scores, medical records that pertain to their cancer diagnosis and recovery, and at least two letters of reference from two people other than their parents. An application with several questions must also be submitted for consideration by the scholarship committee.

You can learn more about the ​The Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship Foundation here

25. College in Colorado Scholarship

This scholarship for students at Colorado colleges and universities is offered to all students with a 2.5 GPA or higher, based on financial need. In order to be considered for the scholarship, students will need to have completed required coursework as stated in the application. The FAFSA must also be submitted each year when applying for financial aid so that the student's financial needs can be assessed. Up to $1,500 per year is available to students, though this amount may be reduced for students with lesser demonstrated financial need.

You can learn more about the ​College in Colorado Scholarship here

26. College in Colorado College Application Month Scholarship

Team CIC, which stands for College in Colorado, is a group committed to advocacy on behalf of Colorado colleges and the importance of continuing education beyond high school. Each October, the organization celebrates National College Application Month by offering one $1,000 scholarship and several $250 IKEA gift cards for college dorm purchases. Colorado high school seniors can submit one contest entry per week during October, with the winners announced at the end of the month.

You can learn more about the ​College in Colorado College Application Month Scholarship here

27. The Dottie-Walker Scholarship

Offered by the LEAD Foundation, this $1,000 scholarship is open to Colorado high school students who have been diagnosed with a learning disability like ADHD. As part of receiving the LEAD Foundation's Dottie-Walker Scholarship, the organization requests that recipients commit to self-advocacy in college classrooms and contribute to the awareness of learning disabilities among their peers. The scholarship cannot be renewed, but recipients can reapply each year. Several other opportunities are offered by the LEAD Foundation to students in specific Colorado high schools as well.

You can learn more about the ​The Dottie-Walker Scholarship here

28. Gordon Scheer Accounting Scholarship

The Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants has offered this scholarship program to Colorado accounting students since 1958. Applicants for this scholarship must be accepted or enrolled as an accounting major at a college in Colorado. A single award is made available each year, worth a maximum of $1,250. Though the scholarship cannot be renewed for all four years of an undergraduate program, scholarship winners are free to reapply each year.

You can learn more about the ​Gordon Scheer Accounting Scholarship here

29. Colorado Masons' Benevolent Fund Scholarship

One of the most generous scholarship programs in the state, the Colorado Masons' Benevolent Fund Scholarship is offered to students who are graduating high school seniors. Applicants must commit to attending a Colorado college or university. Currently, the scholarship is worth $7,000; unlike many other scholarship programs in the state, this one can be renewed for up to four years of undergraduate study for a maximum award of $28,000.

You can learn more about the​ Colorado Masons' Benevolent Fund Scholarship here

30. The Colorado Student Grant (CSG)

Colorado, like all states nationwide, maintains a state-funded assistance programs for Colorado resident students who are studying at one of the state's two-year or four-year institutions. All students in the state are considered for the program automatically when they submit their FAFSA online. As a need-based program, grant amounts do vary. Most students will receive between $500 and $5,000, based on demonstrated need and the relative cost of their educational expenses.

You can learn more about the ​The Colorado Student Grant (CSG) here

31. The Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship

The Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship is offered to female African-American students who are either juniors or seniors at an accredited public or private university in Colorado. The scholarship requires all applicants to have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA in a 4.0 scale. A paper application, as well as an essay on a different assigned topic each year, must be submitted for consideration by the committee. The program is non-renewable, though applicants can reapply during each of their junior and senior years.

You can learn more about the ​The Dr. Julianne Malveaux Scholarship here

32. College Invest 529 Savings Plan Scholarship

Sometimes, early planning for college does pay off in a big way. Offered by College Invest to Colorado residents attending a Colorado college or university, this unique program provides an annual scholarship of up to $2,000 to Colorado students who maintain a 529 tuition savings plan with College Invest. The program is not limited to traditional, first-time students, either. Even adult students and graduate students who maintain a College Invest 529 savings plan can apply for the scholarship each year.

You can learn more about the ​College Invest 529 Savings Plan Scholarship here

33. Colorado Council Volunteerism/Community Service Scholarship

The Colorado Council of High School / College Relations offers an annual scholarship to graduating high school seniors who plan to attend college in the state during the next academic year. Sixteen total awards are granted each year, with a strong emphasis on community service. An application and essay are required as part of the application process, where students should emphasize the community involvement programs that they've taken part in during their high school career. The maximum award amount is $1,500 without an option for renewal.

You can learn more about the ​Colorado Council Volunteerism/Community Service Scholarship here

34. The Boettcher Foundation Scholarship

Considered one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the country, the Boettcher Scholarship is offered to Colorado residents who are attending one of the state's public universities. The award fully covers tuition and fees, provides a $2,800 stipend to cover room and board expenses, and allows the student's college or university to allocate a small fund for purchasing required textbooks at the university bookstore. As a condition of receiving this merit-based scholarship, recipients take part in annual Boettcher Foundation gatherings and statewide events.

You can learn more about the ​The Boettcher Foundation Scholarship here

35. Denver Scholarship Foundation

The Denver Scholarship Program is focused singularly on students graduating from Denver public schools. Those students can apply as graduating seniors for this unique scholarship, which is designed as a need-based program if they plan to attend one of Colorado's two-year, four-year, or vocational schools. The award amount maxes out at $5,000, though this amount can optionally be reduced for students with a lesser financial need compared to their peers.

You can learn more about the Denver Scholarship Foundation here

We've worked hard to include a variety of scholarship opportunities within our list. If you have any suggestions on additional scholarships, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.