higher education

A bipartisan bill that would boost the ability of Colorado’s higher education facilities to help struggling students passed the House yesterday.

HB19-1206, sponsored by Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver) and Rep. Colin Larson (R-Littleton), will require higher education institutions to go beyond simply enrolling students in traditional remedial courses prior to college-level courses, according to a news release issued by Colorado House Democrats.

Instead, it will require students to be offered supplemental academic instruction (SAI) that can also count toward college-level coursework and credits.

“We need to provide resources to elevate students to help ensure their success,” Coleman said in the release. “Higher education is a powerful tool to lift people out of poverty and into middle class. It’s past time to to rectify the gap within our higher ed institutions. This bill will expand opportunity for students by supplementing their classes with additional academic support without it prolonging their degree completion.”

Currently, students who are not college-ready according to academic assessments are placed in remedial college courses to prepare them for college-level coursework, according to the release.

“As a result, students pay to take remedial courses, which do not count towards their graduation requirements, which may prolong the time it takes to obtain a degree and increases the likelihood of dropout,” the release stated. “SAI is a way to remedy the equity gap that exists between these students and students who are prepared to take college level coursework.”

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Within the Colorado Community College System, SAI has shown promising results in Colorado by helping to increase the English pass rates from 36 percent to 74 percent and math pass rates from 16 percent to 40 percent, according to the release.

HB19-1206 passed by a bipartisan vote of 63-2. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Also on Tuesday, the House Education committee approved two bills to expand state financial aid resources for ASSET students and provide assistance with the fees associated with International Baccalaureate exams.

HB19-1196, sponsored by Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver) would give Advancing Students for a Strong Tomorrow (ASSET) students the ability to receive state financial aid.

“Increasing the eligibility for state financial aid will particularly impact Colorado’s small, rural institutions that lack financial resources to supplement state financial aid for ASSET students,” Gonzales-Gutierrez said. “Improving access to higher education by increasing financial assistance will erase our equity gaps and also be an investment in Colorado’s future.”

Currently, ASSET students are eligible for the College Opportunity Fund and institutional aid, but they are not eligible for state aid, including scholarships awarded by the state, according to a news release issued by Colorado House Democrats. The ASSET bill passed the legislature in 2013 with bipartisan support and makes the in-state tuition rate at state colleges and universities in Colorado available to all students, regardless of immigration status, who graduate from high school in Colorado after attending for at least three years.

HB19-1196 passed by a vote of 8-5. The bill goes to the House floor.

The committee also approved HB19-1222, sponsored by Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon) and Rep. Cathy Kipp (D-Fort Collins), which will allow funds in the advanced placement exam fee grant program to also be available to reduce or eliminate fees for the international baccalaureate exam for low-income students.

The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 10-3. HB19-1222 now heads to the House Appropriations committee.