If you’ve never earned a college degree and you’re serious about learning skills for a new career, Paul Bushong of Aspen Glen wants you to apply for a scholarship he’s funding at Colorado Mountain College. Depending on the student’s campus and program, the scholarship provides up to $5,000 a year and is renewable for the second year of study, for a total of up to $10,000.

Paul Bushong and Heather Exby

Fast Forward Scholarship at CMC donor Paul Bushong and CMC dean and vice president Dr. Heather Exby.

Maybe you didn’t attend or finish college and you’re in mid-career. Life in the valley is difficult on your current salary; perhaps you want to learn a new vocation but don’t know how you can afford the time and money.

If this describes you, the funds for you to succeed are available through the Colorado Mountain College Foundation.

Nontraditional students, who typically have fewer scholarship options, are encouraged to apply, regardless of their age. Grade point averages and participation in extracurricular activities aren’t considered critical for the new Fast Forward Scholarship at Colorado Mountain College, either.

“There are two important requirements,” said Bushong. “One, they have to be serious about their education. And two, they have to genuinely need the money. We’re trying to find those who’ve slipped through the cracks.”

The Fast Forward Scholarship began with CMC and the Aspen Community Foundation, in 2014.  That initial scholarship is geared for high school seniors or those with GEDs who want to pursue workforce and job skills training. Instead of funding a typical bachelor’s degree, Fast Forward is for those who are looking for work-ready education. So far, 62 scholarships worth well over $300,000 have funded two-year degrees and certificates at accredited schools of the recipients’ choice. (Five additional scholarships were given this summer through CMC.) The Aspen Community Foundation still manages that initial scholarship program for traditional-aged students who want to go to college outside of the CMC district.

New scholarship at CMC for students of all ages

The new scholarship at CMC is for traditional college-aged students as well as nontraditional – sometimes referred to as “new traditional” – students, or those who have been out of high school for years.

Sophie Pittenger is in her first semester as a recipient of this new Fast Forward Scholarship at Colorado Mountain College. A 2018 Glenwood Springs High School graduate, she was born and raised in the Roaring Fork Valley. During her senior year she had missed the March application deadline for most CMC Foundation scholarships, but thanks to Fast Forward’s three annual application deadlines, she is now attending CMC Spring Valley pursuing an associate degree in outdoor education. Her goal is to work for Outward Bound, the National Outdoor Leadership School or the U.S. Forest Service.

“College is a lot different than high school,” Pittenger said. “I like it more than high school. It’s really nice that I don’t have to worry about trying to figure out finances because that can be overwhelming.”

As well as searching for applicants for Fast Forward at Colorado Mountain College, Bushong is also looking for donors to join him in his efforts. Currently, he is the major contributor to the scholarship.

“I believe CMC offers the biggest educational bargain in the U.S.,” said Bushong in a 2016 interview with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Apply for the Fast Forward Scholarship at Colorado Mountain College 

Criteria and other details:

  • No age limit
  • No annual deadline for applying
  • Scholarship offered three times a year to coincide with the beginning of CMC’s three semesters in August, January and May
  • Offered at any CMC campus although applicant must be a resident of the Glenwood Springs or Carbondale areas
  • Applicant must be a first-time degree seeker
  • Applicant must be enrolled full-time and demonstrate financial need
  • Applicant must be working toward a particular certificate or career and technical associate degree, including accounting-bookkeeping, avalanche science, criminal justice, culinary arts, early childhood education, elementary teacher education, EMT paramedic, fire science technology, hospitality management, medical assistant, natural resource management, nursing, outdoor education, photography, ski and snowboard business, ski area operations, surgical technologist, veterinary technology, welding and many more.

For a complete list of applicable programs and more information, contact Jeanne Golay at the CMC Foundation at or 970-947-8304.