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Aims Helps Northern Colorado Communities Soar

Investment in education helps students, families, and the local economy grow

‘Community’ is Aims’ Middle Name

Aims Community College continually strives to find new ways to support its community. In recent years, Aims’ Loveland campus has partnered with community leaders to support economic growth and has expanded access to education. 

In one such program, Aims accounting students are trained in tax return preparation and then certified by the IRS to help low and middle-income taxpayers with their returns. The program, known as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or VITA, is free to taxpayers who meet the income requirement. Aims has participated in the Tax Help Colorado program for 12 years now, helping claim millions in federal and state refunds. 

Another program helps introduce youth ages 9 to 15 years-old to the college experience. Through the four-day experience of College for Kids, students choose from a variety of classes including creative and cultural pursuits, exercise and nutrition, and business applications.

To stay informed about these and other community-oriented programs, visit

When it comes to achieving a goal, Rudy Aist is flying. 

At 15 years old, he decided he wanted to be a pilot. In 2015 he entered Aims Community College’s professional pilot program.

Rudy was born with radioulnar synostosis, a condition in which the bones and tissues in his forearm are abnormally connected. Having complete control and being able to use his left hand and wrist pain-free was key to manipulating the controls in the cockpit, and none of the prosthetics he’d tried were right for the job. He needed a particular kind of prosthetic. 

When Aims flight instructor Kevin Haynes saw Rudy’s  need, he leveraged his background in healthcare and his connections at Aims to help the 26-year-old buy the prosthetic — a $5,000 investment — and keep the Fort Collins man’s promising career goals on track.

Aims Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Disability Access Services Dana Jones was Haynes’ contact. A plan to deliver student emergency funds was soon underway with the support of Rudy’s advisor and the Aims Community College Foundation. 

“Getting Rudy this help was truly a team effort,” Jones said. “It is totally the reason we are all here.” 

The Aims Community College Foundation provided financial support for Rudy in the form of a student emergency scholarship. 

“Through scholarships, the Aims Community College Foundation enhances the effort of investing in our future and communities,” said Kelly Jackson, the foundation’s executive director. “Support for academic direction equals access to employment and boosts economic impact, creating a vibrant economy and success, not only for the students but employers as well.”

In this case, the foundation funded Rudy’s tuition so that he could personally pay for the prosthetic with support from his insurance company. This allowed him to cover tuition and cover the out-of-pocket cost for the prosthetic.

“Helping students is one of the ways Aims gives back, but if not for community support, such endeavors wouldn’t be possible,” Kelly notes.

According to a Northern Colorado Public Colleges and University study conducted by EMSI for the 2017-18 fiscal year, the community’s investment in education pays off in numerous ways. 

Aims is a local district college, meaning that it receives funding from taxpayers in its district and through legislative action. Tuition and fees are just 20 percent of the college’s budget. Aims’ tuition is among the lowest in the state, which makes it an affordable educational option while also doing much to support the future of the local economy.

The EMSI study found that, collectively, the four public colleges and universities in Northern Colorado injected $3.9 billion into the economy with payroll, construction, and other spending during the study period. In doing so, it created one out of every eight jobs in the region.

About 90 percent of Aims alumni stay in Northern Colorado and, combined with their fellow graduates, contribute $2 billion to the economy in the form of a highly skilled workforce (a workforce that earns higher wages.) Buying real estate, groceries, and entertainment add up, creating a wealth of enjoyment for everyone living and working in Northern Colorado.

That creates a 14.1 percent average rate of return for taxpayers’ $307.2 million tax revenue investment, according to EMSI. Put another way, for every $1 spent in taxpayer contributions, there was an astonishing $5.20 return on the investment.The investment in education pays off in other ways, too. 

For every $1 students spent on education, graduates realized a $3.20 return on their investment. That income translates into reduced dependency on government services and adds to the overall quality of life for residents. 

As for Rudy, he is fast approaching graduation. Having already earned his private pilot license, he has just three lessons to go to earn his commercial pilot’s license. 

He doesn’t plan on flying away from Northern Colorado anytime soon though. In fact, he hopes to join Aims Community College staff as a flight instructor at Aims’ flight center at Northern Colorado Regional Airport, a move that will help him log more flight hours and bring him closer to his goal of becoming a commercial pilot with Southwest Airlines. 

From there, he hopes NASA comes calling with a need for his skills.

“I just think it would be so cool to say ‘I work at NASA,’” he says, noting that they do indeed employ pilots.

Aims Community College