The William H. Gray III College Completion Challenge Grant Program
Congress makes the following findings:
1. Students from low-income families are significantly more likely to leave a four-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 four-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 federal financial assistance programs for students and higher education systems have traditionally focused on ensuring access to postsecondary education, the federal government should expand its role in student financial assistance programs for postsecondary education to 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 a student dropping out of a four-year institution of higher education:
nA delayed entry into postsecondary education after graduating from high school.
n A low grade-point average.
nWorking full time while enrolled.
nBeing a first-generation college student.
7. Most students who drop out of college, particularly those at the greatest risk of leaving their programs of study without a baccalaureate degree, do so during the first two years of study.
8. At-risk students who receive targeted academic 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 academic 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…
In general, an institution of higher education is eligible to receive a grant under this chapter if the institution meets the requirements of section 102 and awards baccalaureate degrees or [with certain limitations] associate’s degrees.
1. Associate’s-Degree Granting Institutions. An eligible applicant that awards only associate’s degrees may apply for a grant under this chapter only as a member of a consortium that includes one or more institutions of higher education awarding 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…
3. 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 [U.S. Secretary of Education] its successful prior commitment to the purposes of this chapter, through the prior support of at least one of the activities described [below]…
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 services program, targeted to students in their first two years of postsecondary education, that includes activities such as:
nMentoring programs involving faculty and upper-class students.
nActivities to assist students currently enrolled in a two-year institution to secure admission and financial assistance in a four-year program of postsecondary education.
nActivities to assist students in securing admission and financial assistance for enrollment in graduate and professional programs.
nAssistance in course selection.
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…
Authorization of Appropriations
In general, there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this chapter [$35 million] for fiscal year 2000, and such sums as may be necessary for each of the four succeeding fiscal years.
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