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Artists rendering of a multi-story building that will house the new college of medicine

Colorado lawmakers give final approval to fund UNC's proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine

The strategic initiative to help address Colorado's critical shortage of physicians will enroll 150 medical students annually, with an inaugural class anticipated to start as early as fall 2026.

 The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) celebrates a historic milestone today as Colorado lawmakers approved a bill that will fund the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine. With HB24-1231 now poised for Governor Polis' signature, UNC's ambitious vision edges closer to fruition.

Approved by the Colorado legislature, the bill allocates an investment of $127.5 million toward construction, startup, and accreditation expenses through Certificates of Participation (COP) funding. The state will also use approximately $41 million of its statutory reserve to strategically invest in the escrow needs of the project, as required by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.  

UNC's College of Osteopathic Medicine will enroll 150 medical students annually, with an inaugural class anticipated to start as early as Fall 2026. This strategic initiative will help address Colorado's critical shortage of physicians. According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, a staggering 65% of the state’s physician needs are still unmet. In 2023 all but three of Colorado’s 64 counties lacked enough primary care health professionals.

In addition to increased access to health care, the college will serve as a powerful economic engine, creating jobs, attracting talent, and boosting local economies. A newly released economic impact study conducted by Lightcast projects a $1.4 billion boost to Colorado’s economy over the next 20 years, along with $84 million in taxpayer benefits. The study further projects that the new college will continue to positively impact Coloradans well into the future, contributing at least $197.2 million annually in added income to the state’s economy even after the 20-year period analyzed in the study.

Expressing gratitude to Colorado's legislature, UNC President Andy Feinstein emphasized the pivotal role the College of Osteopathic Medicine will play in strengthening the state's healthcare workforce, particularly in rural communities.

"The College of Osteopathic Medicine will yield dividends for Colorado, today and for generations to come," said Feinstein, adding “I want to thank our legislative sponsors, Representatives Mary Young and Lindsey Daugherty and Senators Barbara Kirkmeyer and Kyle Mullica, for seeing the need, sharing in our vision and working tirelessly to champion the bill.”

Opening the College of Osteopathic Medicine requires a minimum investment of $200 million. In addition to securing funding from the state via HB24-1231, UNC has received $31 million from generous donors, including a landmark $25 million donation from The Weld Trust to support this transformative initiative.

In addition to UNC's College of Osteopathic Medicine, House Bill 24-1231 will invest $119 million to cover construction and infrastructure costs for complementary yet distinct healthcare and veterinary medicine programs at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado State University, and Trinidad State College.

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