Free Application Day promotes higher education affordability

Dorina Vida

Colorado Free Application Day is seeing its second anniversary since its establishment by Colorado Governor Jared Polis last year. 

Colorado Free Application Day waives admission fees to 32 public universities and colleges, as well as a few private institutions, on that day. It takes place this year on Tuesday, Oct. 15 between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., according to a public statement by the state of Colorado


“Giving students the opportunity to apply for free is a way for students to consider schools that maybe they weren’t considering in the application process,” said Heather Daniels, director of admissions at Colorado State University.

According to Daniels, application fees have created barriers and hesitation for students applying to certain schools over others, as well as completely limiting the amount of schools students are allowed to apply for. 

“Offering free applications has overall increased the number of applications that are submitted to Colorado schools,” Daniels said. “We will continue to participate in the Free App Day and work with students that are interested in applying to CSU.”

Colorado Free Application Day also gives accessibility to students who normally don’t have access to the resources required to apply for an institution of higher education.

Colorado Free Application Day gives accessibility to students who aren’t as likely to apply by leveling out the playing field.” -Tanya Rivera-Vigil, high school counselor at Fort Collins High School

“In the past, we found students had to be particular on which colleges to apply to,” said Tanya Rivera-Vigil, high school counselor at Fort Collins High School. “This allows for students to be able to meet all of those different needs, keeping options open and finding out which schools give them better opportunities.”

Colorado Free Application Day allows students to apply for schools that aren’t within their financial capabilities and that provide the academics and activities they are looking for in a school. It also allows students to challenge themselves in a school that is more difficult to get into, rather than being forced into settling for a school they know they can get into, Rivera-Vigil said.

“We did see a lot more students applying for different schools here in Colorado,” Rivera-Vigil said. “Maybe Colorado wasn’t their first choice financially, but now they can afford to apply, and some of them have stayed because they find that they can benefit financially from the in-state tuition.”

Students belonging to minority groups are less likely to attempt to apply as a result of extra fees like the admissions fee, Rivera-Vigil said.

“Students who are on free and reduced lunch, many don’t understand that they can get a free application based on that status alone,” Rivera-Vigil said. “So they will apply for Front Range Community College where they have a free application there. There are students who have not applied to a four-year university or college based on that $55 fee.”

According to Rivera-Vigil, high schools like FCHS are putting together day-long programs on Oct. 15 where current seniors will work with counselors on applying for the schools most applicable for them.


“Colorado Free Application Day gives accessibility to students who aren’t as likely to apply by leveling out the playing field,” Rivera-Vigil said. “It helps everybody.”

Dorina Vida can be reached at or on Twitter @simply_she_