Life happens. Not all students have a simple and straightforward path to success, and, often, personal circumstances can get in the way of taking classes or finding a path that leads to a degree.
That’s why, in 2021, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative launched the Finish What You Started program. This state-funded initiative helps students return to the classroom and, as the name says, to finish what they started. At CU Denver, students can use this program to re-enroll at the university. The program provides financial assistance and support services to help students reach their academic goals.
The program is set to run through 2026. Funding is available to students based on specific program and student needs, and participating students receive scholarships—ranging from $500 to $1,500 per semester—as well as connections to other financial resources to help them finish. Participants also receive 1:1 enrollment help, academic success mentoring, and support to aid their transition into the workforce, along with a variety of other benefits.
We spoke to two CU Denver students who are using the Finish What You Started program to earn their degree—and enter the workforce prepared for their next step.
While studying for a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CU Denver in 2020, Sam Carrillo was also working in the medical field when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. As stress, life circumstances, and burnout built, she stopped working towards her degree. But she returned to classes at CU Denver in fall 2022 because she had a goal to become a nurse. Now, she balances classes and work as a medical assistant at an organ transplant clinic—something that is more achievable thanks to the Finish What You Started program. “I’ve been doing the program virtually because I’m working full time and it’s more flexible, so [I’m] meeting with coaches either via phone call or Zoom,” Carrillo said.
Jakob Prichard knew he wanted to get his college degree, but the timing wasn’t right. “For me, I did a semester, I didn’t do well, I didn’t like it, I left,” Prichard said. “It was just hard for me to stay in school when I didn’t really know what I want to do.” He knew he wanted to come back but was waiting for the right motivation. “I actually got an email from someone who ran the Finish What You Started program about getting money for coming back, creating an action plan to graduate, and to do better than my first semester.” That was the push Prichard needed. He’s back in school at CU Denver, studying entrepreneurship, and plans to graduate in 2025.
Ready to head back to school and pick up where you left off? Find out how CU Denver’s Finish What You Started program can help you.