The House today passed Representative Cathy Kipp’s legislation to improve and expand the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) by a vote of 51-13.
“COSI brings enormous value to our students and our communities through matched public and private funding,” said Rep. Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “Today we ensured that COSI will continue to help students, who need it most, all over the state to successfully attain higher degrees for years to come. When we support our students, we all benefit. So far we have helped 75,000 students, and we can’t wait to see how many more will succeed with the help of this program.”
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. The bill removes 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. It also allows more government agencies to receive funding such as colleges in addition to community organizations and related foundations among other things.
The bill passed the Senate on February 13 by a vote of 32-0.