Higher Education Student Success legislation (HB21-1330) authorizes federal American Rescue Plan dollars to reengage students


The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption to the lives of students and their families, the operations of the state’s colleges and universities, workforce, and economy. HB21-1330, signed by the Governor on June 29, 2021, authorizes federal American Rescue Plan dollars for students, postsecondary institutions, and other entities that fit into the postsecondary pipeline, with a focus on re-engaging students to earn the degrees they started to improve their earning power. The bill implements student success strategies across the state and charges the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) with reimagining the role of postsecondary institutions in a post-pandemic world to build economic resiliency and strengthen the state’s workforce. 

HB21-1330 bill text 

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For more information on the bill and implementation, please contact Chloe Figg at Chloe.Figg@dhe.state.co.us.  

This page will be updated every Friday with new information. Last update 11/2/2021

COSI Finish What You Started

About the section:

With the passage of HB21-1330, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) received $46.5 million to expand its Finish What You Started (FWYS) program. The funds will be allocated to public institutions of higher education to focus on providing indirect and direct support to undergraduate, in-state students who: 

  • Earned some postsecondary credits from a public/private higher education institution but did not complete a credential before deciding not to enroll for two or more consecutive semesters; or 
  • Were admitted to a public institution of higher education as a first-time student for the 2019- 2020 or 2020-2021 academic year but did not enroll at any institution for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The legislature has asked COSI and higher education institutions to prioritize program development and launch in the summer and fall 2021 semesters.  

Actions to Date: 

  • Presentation and conversations to gather feedback: CEOs (6/8/21), Academic Council (6/8/21), CFOs (6/15/21 and requested feedback by 6/25/21), and 
  • Conversations with the bill sponsors 
  • Conversations with all three area technical colleges 
  • Two structured and interactive sessions with a variety of audiences (CFOs, CEOs, Lobbyists, existing COSI contacts, VPSS, and other campus administration) (6/29-6/30/21) 
  • Survey to gather additional feedback from those that could not attend the interactive sessions (requested feedback by 7/2/21) 
  • COSI Board meeting on July 14, 2021 
  • Emergency rules finalized 
  • Institutional allocations finalized 
  • Pre-work material sent to IHEs
  • Request for Proposals released on July 28, 2021 for IHEs to submit Student Assistance Plans (SAPs)
  • IHEs were invited to participate in weekly information technical assistance sessions with the COSI team in August. 
  • IHEs submitted their SAP by August 15, 2021 or September 5, 2021
  • COSI Advisory Board reviewed SAPs Summer application submissions on August 25, 2021 and notified applicants of next steps.
  • COSI Advisory Board will review Fall application submissions SAPs on September 29, 2021


Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force

About the section:

Section 13 of the bill charges the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) with convening a task force by August 1, 2021, to study and make recommendations on the role and mission of institutions of higher education in the state in providing effective and efficient workforce development. 

The task force will submit a report of findings and recommendations by December 15th, 2021, to the Commission and to the education committees of the Colorado General Assembly. 

At a minimum, the task force is charged to study the following: 

  1. Is the availability of and access to postsecondary credential programs sufficient throughout the state without undue overlap and ensures the most efficient use of resources?

  2. Do service areas improve and add value to the delivery of postsecondary education and support the state’s access and attainment goals?  Are they still relevant? Should they be redrawn?

  3. What are the best practices – leveraged through data and technology – that:

    1. Drive student success;

    2. Create multiple and linked pathways to postsecondary credentials - including incremental credentials that a student may attain while working toward a bachelor’s degree;

    3. Ensure equitable access and benefit to students – including minimizing costs/time spent attaining a credential or degree.

  4. What are strategies for increasing student retention and completion?  How can the state mitigate the consequences that students experience when they incur debt without completing a credential or degree (at an IHE or local district college)?

  5. What are strategies for leveraging federal higher education reforms – including the possibility of funding two years of postsecondary enrollment for each student – to raise the completion rate of two-year and four-year degree programs?

  6. What roles could the state IHEs, the local district colleges, the ATCs, and the state workforce development council serve in designing and promoting career pathways and other workforce development initiatives?

    1. How can the roles of postsecondary education and the state workforce development council by thoughtfully integrated to reduce unnecessary overlap to better provide workforce development and skills training for traditional and nontraditional students?

    2. How can these integrated roles better support and meet Colorado’s workforce, professional, industrial, and business sector needs?

  7. What are the possible uses of money transferred to the workers, employers, and workforce centers cash fund (pursuant to Section 24-75-231(2)(b)(I)(A)) for programs, services, or other assistance that address or mitigate educational disparities for populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19?


Framing Document

November 4th Aligned Systems Agenda 


Aligned Committee Criteria 

Updated Timeline and Arc

Working groups & timeline/dates

Leveling Up overview

Schedule, including Zoom links

Task force and working groups membership



All recordings can be accessed at this link.
Please note, only full task force meetings will be recorded. All meetings are open to the public for listening, not participation, purposes.

Upcoming Dates:

Schedule, including Zoom links

  • Tuesday, September 21st (1–3 pm) – Student Success Workgroup 
  • Wednesday, September 22nd (1–3 pm) Workforce Development Workgroup
  • Wednesday, September 29th (1–3 pm) – Full Task Force


CORE Initiative

About the section:

Section 6 of the bill creates the Colorado Re-Engaged (CORE) Initiative, which will help eligible students at universities receive associate degrees if they drop out of a bachelor’s degree program before finishing. Much like the existing “reverse transfer” program for students who start at community colleges, the CORE initiative is for students who started at universities that don’t otherwise offer associate degrees. Click here to read the CORE Initiative fact sheet.

Actions to Date:

  • The Department hired Peter Fritz, Director of Student Transitions and Degree Completion Initiatives, to oversee the CORE Initiative and find ways to help more students benefit from Colorado Reverse Transfer - Peter began in late September, 2021
  • The Department is working with the Higher Learning Commission to provide resources for institutions on creating their associate degrees for CORE, and to bring efficiencies to the substantive change approval process
  • Department staff will work with institutions to develop processes for CORE and update Commission policies as needed

Upcoming Deadlines:

  • Beginning August 1, 2022 and by August 1st each year after, participating institutions shall report to CDHE the number of eligible students that were awarded an associate degree through CORE as well as the number who re-enrolled after receiving a CORE associate degree.

Financial Aid Working Group

About the section:

Colorado has one of the lowest FAFSA completion rates in the country. Statewide completion for the 2020-21 FAFSA is currently 42.10%, lagging just behind two previous annual rates of 44.4%. Colorado ranks 47th in the nation in form completion for high school seniors. The low participation rate means that our state is leaving more than $30M federal grant dollars on the table annually, and students are not leveraging state aid, because the FAFSA is the primary mechanism institutions use to determine need and award need-based state financial aid.

This section created a working group, convened by the Department,  to recommend measures for increasing the number of high school graduates to complete the student aid applications. The group will consist of thirteen members appointed by the Governor. The group will be convened by the Department before August 15, 2021, with staff help from the Colorado Department of Education. The group will submit a report of its findings and recommendations on increasing financial aid application completions in the state to the General Assembly in January 2022.

Actions to Date:

Upcoming Dates:         

  • Wednesday, December 1, from 8-9:30 am
  • Zoom Meeting ID: 873 5341 6008

    Passcode: 518292


  • Thursday, December 16, from 10:30-12:00 pm

            Zoom Meeting ID: 823 5327 7229

            Passcode: 771129


Financial Aid Application Completion Grant

About the section:

Colorado ranks 47th in the nation in FAFSA form completion for high school seniors. This means that our state is leaving behind more than $30M federal grant dollars annually. It has been a long time goal for the Department to increase federal student aid completion. Section 13 of the bill also creates a task force within the Department to examine how to increase FAFSA and CASFA completion for the state long term. 
This section creates a new grant program within COSI to provide competitive grants to assist school districts in increasing their student aid application completion rate. To be eligible to participate in the grant program, a local education provider must require students to complete the student aid applications before graduation unless the requirement is waived under conditions described by the local education provider. 

Implementation information forthcoming. Please check back later!