stethoscope health care

Some Pikes Peak State College health care programs will be free starting this fall, thanks to the state’s new Care Forward Colorado initiative.

Students in PPSC’s certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, phlebotomy technician, pharmacy technician, medical assisting and dental assisting programs will be able to get their tuition, fees, books and other materials covered by the state, according to an Aug. 29 PPSC press release. 

They can use other financial aid resources for living expenses and any other costs related to enrollment, the release said. 

Care Forward Colorado is specifically for programs that don't span more than one year, per state law passed in May that appropriated $26 million to the Colorado Department of Higher Education for the program during the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

The money comes from a state economic recovery and relief cash fund, according to the law text.

The funding will help propel more people into entry-level health care positions, which “faced deep shortages” before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an information page from the Colorado Community College System. Those shortages were exacerbated by people leaving health care professions during the public health crisis.

The number of phlebotomy and pharmacy technician positions in the state will grow by 38 percent and 24 percent respectively by 2023, according to the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report. Overall, the health care support jobs that Care Forward Colorado is targeting will increase by 16 percent by next year, the report said.

“Care Forward is going to make such a difference, both for our depleted healthcare workforce and for the lives of so many students,” PPSC President Lance Bolton said in the college's release. “These are careers with solid incomes, and the jobs are so mobile. These students can work anywhere.”