Colorado Legislative Council Staff


Drafting Number:

Prime Sponsor(s):

LLS 98-319

Sen. Thiebaut


Bill Status:

Fiscal Analyst:

January 22, 1998

Senate Education

Janis Baron (866-3523)



Summary of Assessment

            The bill establishes an Academic Achievement Grant Program for qualified students who attend participating institutions of higher education beginning with the Fall semester of 1998, for the high school graduating class of 1998, and includes the following provisions:


               requires local boards of education to submit to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) lists of top students (as defined by rule), within 30 days after high school graduation or the issuance of high school diplomas;

               requires CCHE to send notice of the program to eligible students;

               allows eligible students to receive a tuition credit up to $1,000 per academic year toward an undergraduate degree;

               places requirements on students receiving tuition credit in the program;

               requires CCHE to promulgate rules to implement the program;

               requires CCHE to take into consideration any assistance available through federal programs, so that the aggregate of federal tax credits and assistance received does not exceed the student’s full tuition for any semester or academic year;

               is repealed, effective July 1, 1999;

               requires CCHE to determine the portion of moneys appropriated under Section 23-3-3-501, C.R.S., to dedicate for the Academic Achievement Grant Program; and

               is effective upon signature of the Governor.

            CCHE is required to identify the percentage of students in the high school graduating class who may receive grants under the program. Because the percentage is yet to be determined, the number of potentially qualifying students cannot be identified. Qualifying students choosing to participate in the program shall receive an academic achievement grant in the form of a tuition credit of up to $1,000. Because CCHE is allowed to determine the level of funding the program will receive out of its need-based and merit-based grants (the FY 1997-98 appropriation included $43.2 million General Fund), the amount of the academic achievement grant may be less than $1,000.


            CCHE indicates that the time frames identified under Section 23-3.3-803 of the bill would require institutions to make awards late in the financial aid process; thus necessitating adjustments in award packages for eligible students. The Hope Tax Credit, available through the federal “Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997”, PL 105-34, would be effective April 1999 for those students receiving assistance during state fiscal year 1998-99 (expenses paid after December 31, 1997). The Lifetime Learning Credit, also available under PL 105-34, is available to an individual taxpayer for individuals ineligible for the Hope Tax Credit, in an amount not to exceed 20 percent of $5,000 of qualified tuition and related expenses paid after June 30, 1998. Because it cannot be determined in August 1998 what credit a family may be eligible for, CCHE indicates it would grant the full $1,000 achievement grant and allow the Hope Tax Credit to automatically limit the package to tuition (as defined by the federal government), thus meeting the requirement of Section 23-3.3-805.

            The bill is assessed has having no fiscal impact, no new funding is required to implement the Academic Achievement Grant Program. Although the bill places administrative requirements on local school districts, CCHE, and the respective institutions of higher education, this fiscal note assumes that the administrative costs of the program can be absorbed within existing resources. Additionally, the bill requires that the actual grant awards are to come out of moneys appropriated under Section 23-3-3-501, C.R.S. (merit-based and need-based grants). The size of the program and number of qualifying students is yet to be determined, thus the impact to merit-based and need based grants cannot be quantified.


NOTE:   Because the bill includes a repealer clause for July 1, 1999, the program applies only to students graduating from high school in 1998.

Departments Contacted


            Higher Education