RFI Response 2018







Overview

At the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff initiated a Request for Information (RFI) from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) to be due October 1, 2018.

Colorado Department of Higher Education, Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Administration and Colorado Commission on Higher Education Financial Aid, Special Purpose, Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative -- Based on consultation with the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Advisory Board created in Section 23-3.3-1004, C.R.S., the department is requested to submit a proposal, by October 1, 2018, for statutory changes to enable responsible spend-down of the program’s corpus without disrupting the program. This proposal may include:

  •  A proposal to ensure that amounts committed for scholarships in current and future years are protected until they are used.

  • A proposal for statutory changes, which may include changes to Section 23-3.3-1005 (4) and 23-3.3-1004 (4)(a)(III)(A), C.R.S., to ensure that all components of the initiative, including student support activities, scholarships, and administrative and technical support, may be annually funded at a level deemed appropriate by the General Assembly and the Board while the corpus is expended.

  • This proposal may also include any other changes recommended by the Board and the Department to support the program’s ongoing success.
The COSI reserve fund, referred to in statute and internally as the corpus, demonstrates the state’s commitment to equity in higher education and is fundamental to securing donor buy-in, protecting the program during economic downturn and maintaining COSI’s stability as a program. Statutory changes may expand the impact of the program and enable the Board to be responsive to grantee needs and economic conditions by spending into the reserve fund. While COSI’s reserve fund balance of $36.5 million appears idle or undirected--when committed funds, administrative costs, and a reasonable buffer for economic downturns for a program of its size are taken into account--COSI demonstrates its need for the maintenance of this full fund, if not additional reserves.

This RFI report utilized constituent feedback collected over the summer of 2018 to understand the impact of COSI across the state and inform conversations within CDHE and the COSI team to strategically consider the impact of reserve fund spending on program stability. 

This process revealed an ideal funding vision to serve Colorado students and impact the state’s completion goals to increase the educated workforce that allows COSI to maintain a fund balance that protects encumbered funds, provides a meaningful reserve fund in the event that annual appropriations are not available in the future, and grows the Initiative to serve more than 8,000 students per year with scholarships and accompanying robust CPP programming.  

Recommendations

In conjunction with the recommended funding strategy outlined in the full RFI, COSI recommends the following statutory changes to establish a strong program that can flexibly address grantee needs and support a greater number of students throughout the state with greater depth:

  • Increase funding for CPP and MSS by acknowledging Board authority to grant awards above 10 percent of the fund balance and maintaining Board authority to continue to appropriate MSS funding at a level deemed appropriate by demand and fund allowance 

  • Remove ratio requirements for spending on non-profit entities and governmental entities 

  • Change the definition of eligibility for student scholarships to specify that  any students classified (or likely to be classified) as in-state under CRS 23-7-110 should be eligible for COSI support services and scholarships as long as they meet other eligibility criteria. 

  • Allot 6 FTE to the program instead of 0, and apply a numerical cap of no less than $580,000 or equivalent percentage on administrative funding 

  • Change “tuition assistance” definition to “cost of attendance” to reflect federal standards


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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 2:53 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:19 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:22 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:23 PM
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Shelley Banker,
Oct 1, 2018, 3:24 PM