Archived Information

College Completion Challenge Grant Initiative

The College Completion Challenge Grant Act of 1999



To assist institutions of higher education help at-risk students stay in school and complete their 4-year postsecondary academic programs.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, this Act may be cited as the "College Completion Challenge Grant Program of 1999".


SEC. 101. Subpart 2 of part A of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1132a et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new chapter:



"SEC. 408A. Congress makes the following findings:

"(1) Students from low-income families are significantly more likely to leave a 4-year institution of higher education without a baccalaureate degree than are students with higher incomes.

"(2) Even among students with above average grades, low-income students are still more likely to leave a 4-year institution of higher education without a baccalaureate degree than are students with higher incomes, especially low-income students enrolled at private institutions.

"(3) This lack of persistence to completion of a baccalaureate degree continues to contribute to the gap in educational attainment and ultimate income levels between disadvantaged students and their more affluent classmates.

"(4) While the focus of Federal student financial assistance and higher education programs has traditionally been to ensure access to postsecondary education, the Federal Government should also address this lack of persistence to baccalaureate degree completion.

"(5) The amount of grant assistance provided to postsecondary students is critical to their persistence and degree attainment.

"(6) In addition to economic disadvantage, the following factors significantly contribute to students dropping out of a 4-year institution of higher education:

"(A) A delayed entry into postsecondary education after graduating from high school.

"(B) A low grade point average.

"(C) Working full-time while enrolled.

"(D) Being a first-generation college student.

"(E) Being less engaged with an academic program.

"(7) Most students who leave college without a degree drop out during the first two years of study.

"(8) At-risk students who receive targeted support services persist to degree completion at higher rates than at-risk students who do not receive such services.

"(9) Educators interested in student retention have long viewed intensive summer programs for incoming first-year students as very important in helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds become acclimated to college life and in improving retention.


"SEC. 408B. (a) PURPOSE.—The purpose of this program is to assist institutions of higher education to help students who are at risk of ending their postsecondary education prior to obtaining baccalaureate degrees, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged, to stay in school until they obtain those degrees.

"(b) PROGRAM AUTHORIZED.—From funds appropriated pursuant to section 408G for each fiscal year, the Secretary is authorized to, in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, award competitive grants to eligible institutions to enable them to pay the Federal share of the costs of carrying out programs designed to meet the purpose of this chapter.

"(c) DURATION OF GRANT.—A grant made under this chapter shall be awarded for a period of 3 years.


"SEC. 408C. (a) IN GENERAL.—An institution of higher education is eligible to receive a grant under this chapter if the institution-

"(1) meets the requirements of section 102; and

"(2) awards baccalaureate degrees, or, subject to subsection (b)(1), associate degrees.

"(b) LIMITATIONS.—(1) ASSOCIATE DEGREE-GRANTING INSTITUTIONS.—An eligible applicant that awards only associate degrees may apply for a grant under this chapter only as part of a consortium that includes one or more institutions of higher education that awards baccalaureate degrees.

"(2) MULTIPLE GRANTS.—An institution that receives a grant under this chapter may compete to receive a subsequent grant, but may not receive more than two grants under this chapter.


"SEC. 408D. (a)(1) IN GENERAL.—Each eligible applicant that desires a grant under this chapter shall submit to the Secretary an application for that grant at such time and containing such information as the Secretary may prescribe.

"(2) DEMONSTRATION OF PRIOR COMMITMENT.—In order to receive a grant under this chapter, an applicant shall demonstrate in its application, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, its successful prior commitment to the purposes of this chapter, through the prior support of at least one of the activities described in section 408E(a).

"(b) MATCHING REQUIREMENT.—1) IN GENERAL.—The Federal share of the cost of programs assisted under this chapter shall not be more than 50 percent, and the matching funds shall be from non-Federal sources.

"(2) CONSORTIA.—The Secretary may establish in regulations the matching requirement applicable to a consortium of institutions in which some of the institutions are eligible for a waiver of the matching requirement under section 395 or section 515.

"(c) COORDINATION REQUIREMENT.—Each eligible institution shall ensure that the activities provided under this chapter are, to the extent practicable, coordinated with, complement, and enhance related services under other Federal and non-Federal programs, and do not duplicate the services already provided at that institution.

"(d) SUPPLEMENT, NOT SUPPLANT.—Funds under this chapter shall be used to supplement, and not supplant, non-Federal funds expended for existing programs.


"Sec. 408E. AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES.—(a) IN GENERAL.—An eligible institution that receives a grant under this chapter shall, except as provided in subsection (b), use the grant to provide services or assistance to students at risk of leaving their programs of study without baccalaureate degrees, particularly economically disadvantaged students, by carrying out one or more of the following:

"(1) Implementing an intensive summer program for incoming first-year students (or students entering their second or third year of postsecondary education if the institution can demonstrate that it is addressing the needs of first-year students and that a summer program could help retention of second- or third-year students at risk of dropping out), provided that the institution demonstrates in its application that it has a strong commitment to student retention through additional activities.

"(2) Developing a strong student support service program, targeted to students in their first two years of postsecondary education, that includes activities such as:

"(A) peer tutoring;

"(B) mentoring programs involving faculty or upper class students;

"(C) activities to assist students currently enrolled in a 2-year institution to secure admission and financial assistance in a 4-year program of postsecondary education;

"(D) activities to assist students in securing admission and financial assistance for enrollment in graduate and professional programs;

"(E) assistance in course selection; and

"(F) cultural events.

"(3) Providing grants to students in their first two years of postsecondary education, in an amount not less than required under subsection (c), except that a recipient that provides grants under this paragraph shall also provide services under paragraphs (1) or (2), or both.

"(b) SPECIAL RULE.—A recipient of funds under this chapter may serve students who have completed their first two years of postsecondary education if it demonstrates in its application, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that—

"(1) these students are at high risk of dropping out; and

"(2) it will first meet the needs of all its eligible first- and second-year students for services under this chapter.

"(c) GRANT SIZE.—(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may, by regulation, establish minimum student grant award levels for purposes of subsection (a)(3), taking into account such factors as the different costs of attendance associated with public and private institutions.

"(2) EXCEPTION.—If the Secretary does not establish minimum student grant award levels under paragraph (1), or if an institution wishes to provide grants under subsection (a)(3) in an amount less than the minimum set by the Secretary, the institution shall demonstrate in its application, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that the size of the grants it will provide is appropriate and likely to have a significant effect on the persistence problem at that institution.


"Sec. 408F. RELATION TO OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.—A grant provided to a student by an eligible institution from an award made under this chapter shall not be considered in determining that student's need for grant or work assistance under this title, except that in no case shall the total amount of student financial assistance awarded to a student under this title exceed that student's cost of attendance, as defined by section 472.


"Sec. 408G. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—(a) IN GENERAL.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this chapter $35,000,000 for fiscal year 2000, and such sums as may be necessary for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.

"(b) SPECIAL RULE.—From the amounts appropriated under subsection (a) for any fiscal year, the Secretary may reserve up to 1 percent of such amount for that fiscal year in order to carry out an evaluation of the program authorized by this chapter."


SEC. 102. The amendments made by section 101 shall be effective on October 1, 1999.

College Completion Challenge Grant Initiative