College Access Challenge Grant Program

To foster partnerships among federal, State and local government entities and philanthropic organizations through matching challenge grants aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who enter and remain in postsecondary education.

Examples of Funded Projects

There are no examples of projects that were funded based upon a grant competition since this is a new program.

Agency - Department of Education

The Department of Education ensures equal access to education and promotes educational excellence through coordination, management and accountability in Federal education programs. The Department works to supplement and complement educational efforts on all levels, encouraging increased involvement by the public, parents and students.

Program Accomplishments

This is a new program; no accomplishments are available.

Uses and Use Restrictions

States or philanthropic organizations (if a State does not meet program requirements) use funds to implement services and activities needed to achieve the goals and objectives of the program.

The services and activities authorized in the statute include: providing information to students and families on postsecondary education planning, benefits, opportunities, financing options and career preparation; assisting students in completing FAFSA; engaging outreach activities; offering professional development for middle and secondary guidance counselors and college SFA and admissions administrators; providing need based grant aid; repaying student loans or lower interest rates; and offering tutoring/mentoring services, and other support services.

A grantee may use not more than 6 percent of the total amount of the sum of the federal share provided and nonfederal share required for administrative purposes.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

An eligible applicant is the State agency with jurisdiction over higher education, or another agency designated by the Governor of the State.

The Secretary may award funds to philanthropic organizations in cases where the State fails to meet program requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

The authorized beneficiaries are underrepresented students and families.


States or philanthropic organizations (if a State does not meet program requirements) must submit an application containing a description of the capacity to administer grant activities and services, a plan for using grant funds to meet the requirements and special efforts to benefit underrepresented students, and how the nonfederal share will be provided, and the structure the state has in place to administer the activities and services. The governor of a state must designate in writing which State agency is authorized to administer the grant. A letter from the governor (on letterhead, signed and dated) must be included in the application.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The program is eligible for coverage under Executive Order 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult with the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his/her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

Application Procedures

Each State must submit an application covering a 2-year period to the Department of Education.

Award Procedures

Applications are reviewed for quality and compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. An allotment is awarded to States or philanthropic organizations if the Assistant Secretary determines the application meets necessary requirements.


Contact the headquarters office for deadlines.


Title VII, Part E of Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. Section 1141.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The estimated range of time need to approve/disapprove an application is usually three months after the deadline for submission.




State applications are amended as needed. Awards are generally made around June 30 of each year.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Funds are awarded on a formula basis to States (or philanthropic organizations if a State does not meet program requirements). Allotments are based on the relative number of persons between the ages of 5 and 17 and 15 and 44 living below the poverty line with no State receiving less than a half of one percent of the funds appropriated for a fiscal year. Poverty status data for participating States will be obtained from the Census Bureau. The minimum allotment for each State for a fiscal year cannot be an amount that is less than 0.5 percent of the total amount appropriated for the program. The statute requires a nonfederal matching contribution of not less than 1/3 of the costs of the project activities and services. This may be provided through in-kind and/or cash contributions.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Grants are made for up to two years, subject to the availability of funds.

Post Assistance Requirements


States or philanthropic organizations (if a State does not meet program requirements) administering the grant must submit an annual performance report.

The report must include: each activity or service that was provided to students and families over the course of the year; the cost of providing each activity or service; and the total contributions from private organizations included as nonfederal share for the fiscal year.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees must maintain appropriate records pertaining to grant funds, compliance and project performance, for three years after the completion of activities for which the grant or subgrant funds were used. This documentation should be sufficient to establish fiscal accountability and facilitate an effective audit.

Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $0; FY 08 est. $66,000,000 and FY 09 est. not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

This is a new program. Data on range and average is not yet available.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

The administration of the formula grant program is governed by the statute and EDGAR (34 CFR 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82 and 85).

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, College Access Challenge Grant Program, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202. Contact: Karmon Simms-Coates, Telephone: (202) 502-7807.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

State will receive funding based on the submission of an approvable application. The application must present a viable plan to achieve goals and objectives and also comply with statutory and regulatory requirements.

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