CMC scholarships can change lives |

CMC scholarships can change lives

Staff report
Roaring Fork Valley local Ali Cottle received a FirstBank scholarship, which helped her reach her goals of earning a Colorado Mountain College associate degree in early childhood education. Today she owns and operates her own in-home day care.
Photo by Ben Suddendorf

Ali Cottle is a Roaring Fork Valley local who earned a Colorado Mountain College degree without leaving the valley, thanks in large part to FirstBank. In doing so, she joined more than 50 students since 2014 from CMC’s mountain region who have received financial support from Colorado’s largest locally owned bank.

Cottle attended Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. After high school graduation, she opted out of the traditional college trajectory and instead, jumped straight into the workforce at age 18, earning a spot on the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol. However, after nine years on the patrol and eight reconstructive knee surgeries, Cottle heeded her orthopedic surgeon’s advice and changed course.

That decision led her to Colorado Mountain College, where she learned she could earn an associate degree in early childhood education and receive financial assistance through FirstBank scholarship funds to pursue her goals. Cottle graduated with an AAS in 2017 and opened her own home daycare in 2020.

“Receiving support from FirstBank to attend CMC enabled me to pursue my passions within the field of early childhood development and education,” said Cottle. “I have also been able to serve my community by licensing my home as an in-home daycare, providing desperately needed child care for local families. The funding that I received eliminated the pressure of student debt, which allowed me the financial freedom necessary to start my own business.”

Scholarship season

It’s scholarship season at Colorado Mountain College. From Dec. 1 through March 1, prospective CMC students begin thinking of securing funds to pay for all or part of their college expenses for the upcoming school year. 

“Empowering individuals with attainable access to education is paramount in building a sustainable and equitable community,” said Dave Portman, FirstBank Roaring Fork Valley market president. “FirstBank is proud to provide funding to ensure getting a degree is possible for more people and is pleased to see the investment manifest in the Roaring Fork Valley, where we have six Colorado Mountain College graduates on our team.”

This year, FirstBank is offering even more financial support to students through two annual scholarship opportunities: 

  • The First in Family Scholarship – Supports local CMC students who are the first in their family to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree. Recipients can receive up to $2,375 per year as full-time students or $1,188 as part-time. 
  • FirstBank Endowed Scholarship – This newly established $100,000 endowment will provide FirstBank scholarships to CMC students each year, in perpetuity.

Both scholarship funds benefit CMC students attending campuses throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, the Vail Valley campus in Edwards, and the Breckenridge and Dillon campus in Summit County. The funds help cover tuition, books, fees and other college costs. 

Applications for both FirstBank CMC scholarships are available now. The priority deadline for applying is March 1, 2023, for the 2023-2024 academic year. For more information or to apply, visit


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