Kipp Bill Expands Access to Higher Education

The House Committee on Education today passed Representative Cathy Kipp’s legislation to improve and expand the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI). The vote passed by unanimously. 

“Over the last six years, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative has helped 75,000 Coloradans access and be successful in their pursuit of higher education,” said Rep. Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “With this bill, the program can adopt best practices in higher education attainment, help more students be successful and provide additional and improved support services which will improve on an already extremely impressive success rate.” 

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative seeks to address two primary challenges: the accessibility and affordability of higher education. It increases accessibility by funding programs that help prepare students for postsecondary education and which support them throughout their education. It increases affordability by providing tuition support for community scholarships so that tuition costs aren’t a barrier to attending a postsecondary institution. 

As of 2017, $27.6 million in state funds has leveraged $28 million in local, private, philanthropic funds to support more than 75,000 Colorado students. Additionally, over 30 student support programs serve COSI students and more than 6,000 students received scholarship assistance. According to the program, 89 percent of students who receive COSI scholarships continue their education to the second and third years, which is 25 percent higher than their peers who have not received any support.   

Current statute limits COSI’s ability to adapt to best practices. SB20-006, which is also sponsored by Representative Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, would give the COSI Advisory Board the flexibility needed to support students and institutions so that every COSI scholar has the guidance and aid to persist and complete their education. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Replace the definition of tuition assistance with financial assistance so that it is tied to the cost of attendance. 
  • Remove the 10 percent funding restriction for state agencies and nonprofits to provide student success support services so that more students can access these critical wraparound services
  • Allows more government agencies to receive funding such as colleges and universities, and school districts, in addition to community organizations and related foundations.

The bill passed the Senate on February 13 by a vote of 32-0.