photo - The Rampart Range campus of Pikes Peak Community College. (Courtesy PPCC)
The Rampart Range campus of Pikes Peak Community College. (Courtesy PPCC) 

Money from a new scholarship fund from the Colorado Department of Higher Education will increase by 25 percent the number of scholarships available for Pikes Peak Community College students.

"It is a very big increase and significant to our school," said PPCC spokeswoman Karen Kovaly.

PPCC received the fourth largest award from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, which will disburse $1.3 million in scholarships statewide. Recipients must match their award dollar-for-dollar.

PPCC's cut of $139,114 will provide 70 additional PPCC students with scholarships of $2,000 each, starting in the fall, Kovaly said.

Last year, PPCC's foundation awarded 278 scholarships to students, she said.

Students from lower- and middle-class homes whose family income is $78,000 or less a year will be eligible to apply for the new scholarships.

The initiative was authorized through legislation passed in 2014, with a goal of launching a network of state-matched scholarship funds across Colorado. The scholarships are intended to help students - especially low-income students - counter their debt load and encourage private-sector contributions to public education.

Counties, institutions of higher education and workforce development organizations are eligible to apply for the postsecondary scholarship funding.

Some 800 students are expected to benefit from this round of disbursements, the first of four proposal reviews. In all, $7 million in startup funds will be leveraged to generate a total of $14 million in new scholarship funds in fiscal year 2015-2016.

The program will help the state achieve its goal of ensuring that all Coloradans have access to higher education, according to Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

In October 2014, the initiative awarded $3.4 million in grants to organizations across the state that work with students to improve higher education access, persistence and completion.

Kovaly said PPCC is in the process of raising its matching funds, and anyone interested in donating can contact the school's foundation at 502-2013 or email foundation@ppcc.edu.

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