Program Rules

Promulgated in 2015, the rules below outline the administration of the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative program. 


DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Colorado Commission on Higher Education

RULES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE COLORADO OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP INITIATIVE

8 CCR 1504-9

 

Authority: 23-3.3-1004(4), C.R.S.; HB: 14-1384

0.0       Statement of Basis and Purpose

These rules are promulgated pursuant to the authority in section 23.3-1004(4), C.R.S., and are intended to be consistent with the requirements of the State Administrative Procedures Act, section 24-4-101 et seq. C.R.S.  Section 23-3.3-1001 et seq. C.R.S. authorizes the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (“the initiative”) to award scholarships or grants to students, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and public institutions of higher education committed to ensuring that every Colorado student has the support needed to enter a postsecondary opportunity, persist and succeed, and enter his or her desired position in the workforce.  These rules shall establish criteria for eligibility of students and community partner programs to participate in the initiative.

1.0       Definitions

1.01     “Board” means the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Advisory Board created in section 23-3.3-1004, C.R.S.

1.02     “Department” means the Colorado Department of Higher Education created pursuant to section 24-1-114, C.R.S.

1.03     “Nonprofit organization” means a tax-exempt charitable or social welfare organization operating under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of title 26 of the United States Code, the federal “Internal Revenue Code of 1986”, as amended.

1.04     “Tuition assistance” means financial assistance to an eligible student of an eligible institution including such financial assistance as is necessary to pay the costs of tuition, fees, books, housing, food, and transportation.

2.0       Grant Awards for Matching Student Scholarships

2.01     Initiative grant awards for matching student scholarships are intended to:

2.01.1  Generate greater availability of scholarship dollars for Colorado students whose income is determined to be between 0 and 250% of the maximum permissible income for the purpose of determining eligibility for PELL grants;

 

2.01.2Promote scholarship programs that include student support services to help students persist and complete a certificate or degree in a timely fashion;

2.01.3 Encourage communities to create or leverage foundations that assist their students with covering the costs of higher education and motivate students to graduate and go on to pursue a degree or credential; and

2.01.4To align tuition assistance programs with workforce development programs.

2.02     Award of initiative grants for matching student scholarships

2.02.1  The initiative shall approve and publicize the total funds available for matching student scholarship grants during each fiscal year.

2.02.2  The initiative shall distribute grants for matching student scholarships to entities committed and able to provide matching funds and not directly to students.

2.02.3  The initiative will award grants for matching student scholarships in three specific categories: County-based grants, Institution of Higher Education grants; and Workforce Development grants.

2.02.4 The initiative shall require all recipients of matching student scholarship grants to consider the following criteria when determining a student applicant’s eligibility to receive tuition assistance: courses of study; commitment to academic achievement; work experience; community involvement; and extracurricular activities.  Additional criteria for eligibility of student applicants to receive tuition assistance may be determined and published annually in the initiative’s request for proposal for matching student scholarship grants.

2.02.5  Other Permitted Uses of Matching Funds

2.02.5.1           When, from time to time, the initiative is approached by funders interested in leveraging matching dollars for scholarship programs outside the funding streams outlined above, the Board may approve agreements that outline the matching ratio, scope of program, and annual commitment.

2.02.5.2           Whenever possible, staff will design scholarship projects that expand upon student support grant programs that have been awarded by the initiative.

2.03     Proposal evaluation and review process

2.03.1  Proposals will be reviewed by the initiative staff, Board and a cross-department team to ensure they contain all components required by the initiative’s request for proposal for matching student scholarship grants.  

2.03.2  Each proposal will be scored and reviewed according to a process determined by the Department.

2.03.3  Initiative staff will organize and review all proposals and prepare for review by the cross-department team.

2.03.4  The cross-department team will review all proposals and determine recommended grant recipients and award amounts.

2.03.5  The cross-department team will present final recommendations to the Board.

2.03.6  The Board will make final decisions regarding grant recipients and award amounts.

2.03.7 Entities chosen as matching student scholarship grant recipients will be contacted and notified of grant award amounts.

2.04     The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative will execute grant agreements with all entities chosen to receive matching student scholarship grants.

2.04.1  All grant agreements shall include the following provisions:

2.04.1.1     Matching funds will be provided on a 1:1 basis for every dollar brought to the table by approved matching partners.

2.04.1.2     Once awarded, initiative grant funds will remain in the initiative’s account until such time as they are to be disbursed for the benefit of individual students receiving scholarships under a recognized initiative program.

2.04.1.3     Initiative grant funds must only be used for Colorado students whose household incomes are determined to be between 0 and 100% or between 100 and 250% of the maximum permissible income for the purpose of determining eligibility for PELL grants.  To the extent practicable, tuition assistance must be evenly distributed between students who are eligible for federal PELL grants and students whose household incomes are determined to be between 100 and 250% of the maximum permissible income for the purpose of determining eligibility for PELL grants.

2.04.1.4     To the extent practicable, grants of tuition assistance must be awarded to students representing rural and urban areas of the state and to students attending public vocational schools, community colleges, four-year institutions of higher education, and research institutions.

2.04.1.5     Agreements will include criteria regarding reporting of success and/or language requiring sharing of outcomes.

3.0       Grant Awards to Community Partner Programs

3.01     Initiative grant awards to community partner programs are intended to:

3.01.1  Promote existing student success programs supporting students in postsecondary degree and certificate completion;

3.01.2 Increase the availability of programs and infrastructure, particularly in rural and underserved communities; and

3.01.3  Align student success best practices throughout the state to ensure that all students have access to services in an equitable way.

3.02     Award of initiative grants to community partner programs

3.02.1 Available initiative grants funds shall be no more than 10% of the initiative’s total funds distributed in any fiscal year. Individual award amounts are capped at $1,000,000 per year.

3.02.2  Nonprofit organizations, governmental entities and community partnerships focused on student success activities and student support services shall be eligible to receive community partner program grant funds.

3.02.3  At least seventy percent of the initiative’s available grant funds shall be awarded to nongovernmental entities.

3.02.4  Student support services shall include:

3.02.4.1     Postsecondary preparatory services;

3.02.4.2     Career and college support professional’s salaries and benefits;

3.02.4.3     Student services that address remediation, graduation, retention, and drop out/stop out prevention;

3.02.4.4     Tuition assistance grants that are proven to be an essential component of an applicant’s comprehensive approach to a student’s postsecondary readiness, access, and completion;

3.02.4.5     Professional development;

3.02.4.6     Program development;

3.02.4.7     Indirect costs (up to 5%);

3.02.4.8     Travel;

3.02.4.9     Equipment (hardware and software); and

3.02.4.10   Consulting services.

3.03     Criteria used to evaluate proposals for community partner program grants

3.03.1  Proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the following statutory criteria, pursuant to section 23-3.3-1001 et seq. C.R.S.:

3.03.1.1     Reductions in remediation rates and associated costs;

3.03.1.2     Increases in graduation rates;

3.03.1.3     Reductions in average time required to earn a degree;

3.03.1.4     Increases in student retention rates;

3.03.1.5     Reductions in disparities between the academic achievements of certain student populations based on demographic, geographic, and economic indicators;

3.03.1.6     Adoption of best practices for student support services;

3.03.1.7     Implementation of postsecondary and professional competencies;

3.03.1.8     Fulfillment of local workforce needs;

3.03.1.9     Reductions in student loan debt;

3.03.1.10   Improvements in tuition affordability; and

3.03.1.11   Improvements in students’ access to Federal grant programs and other Federal sources of support for postsecondary students.

3.03.2  Proposals will be also be evaluated in accordance with the following additional criteria:

3.03.2.1     Adoption of “Guided Pathways to Success” strategies (e.g., informed choice, no wasted credits, default pathways, intrusive advising, full course loads, available at http://completecollege.org);

3.03.2.2     Scalability and replicability of program;

3.03.2.3.    Affordability and cost of implementation; and

3.03.2.4     Plans for sustainability and institutionalization.

3.04     Proposal evaluation and review process

3.04.1  Proposals from community partner programs will be reviewed by the initiative staff, Board and a cross-department team to ensure they contain all components required by the initiative’s request for proposal for community partner program grants.  

3.04.2  Each proposal will be scored and reviewed according to a process determined by the Department.

3.04.3  Initiative staff will organize and review all scores and categorize proposals by program type to prepare for review by the cross-department team.

3.04.4  The cross-department team will review all scores and determine recommended grant recipients and award amounts, which shall in the aggregate be less than or equal to the annual 10 percent of total initiative funds available for community partner program grants.

3.04.5  The cross-department team will present final recommendations to the Board.

3.04.6  The Board will make final decisions regarding grant recipients and award amounts.

3.04.7 Community partner programs chosen as grant recipients will be contacted and notified of grant award amounts.

3.05     The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative will execute grant agreements with all community partner programs chosen as grant recipients.

3.06     Grants will be awarded pursuant to the terms of the mutually executed grant agreements.  However, grant funding beyond the first year will be contingent upon annual appropriations by the general assembly and the discretion of the initiative.   Community partner programs chosen as grant recipients will be eligible for continued funding for a second year upon successful demonstration of the following:

3.06.1  Submission of all required evaluation materials;

3.06.2  Adequate progress toward successful attainment of annual objectives;

3.06.3  Completion of a program development report after the first year of the grant award to demonstrate fidelity to proceed with the second year; and

3.06.4  Completion of a satisfactory budget for the second year.

4.0       Evaluation of the effectiveness of the initiative in improving higher education outcomes in the state           

4.01     The initiative shall use the following criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the initiative in improving higher education outcomes in the state:

            4.01.1  Reductions in remediation rates and associated costs;

            4.01.2  Increases in graduation rates;

            4.01.3  Reductions in average time required to earn a degree;

            4.01.4  Increases in student retention rates;

            4.01.5  Reductions in disparities between the academic achievements of certain   student populations based on demographic, geographic, and economic indicators;

            4.01.6  Adoption of best practices for student support services;

            4.01.7  Fulfillment of local workforce needs;

            4.01.8  Reductions in student loan debt;

            4.01.9  Improvements in tuition affordability; and

            4.01.10 Improvements in students’ access to federal grant programs and other federal      sources of support for postsecondary students.

4.02     The initiative shall require entities in receipt of matching student scholarship grant funds and community partner program grant funds to provide any information needed to evaluate the initiative’s impact on higher education outcomes in the state according to the above criteria.

 

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Shelley Woodson Banker,
Dec 21, 2015, 12:39 PM
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