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.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Deleted 04/02/2020 (Archived.)
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Education
Office: Office of Postsecondary Education
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2014: No Current Data Available. Fiscal Year 2015: No Current Data Available. Fiscal Year 2016: No Current Data Available
Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, Title VII, Part E, Section 781, 20 U.S.C. 1141.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
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's matching requirements) must submit an application containing a description of its capacity to administer and report on grant activities and services, a plan for using grant funds to meet program requirements, including any special efforts the grantee will undertake to benefit underrepresented students. The grantee will also describe how the nonfederal share will be provided, as well as 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. This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or 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 Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Each State must submit an application covering a 2-year period to the Department of Education.
Award Procedure
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 or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
The estimated range of time need to approve/disapprove an application is usually three months after the deadline for submission.
Not Applicable.
State applications are amended as needed.
How are proposals selected?
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.
How may assistance be used?
States or philanthropic organizations (if a State does not meet the program's matching 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 regarding the benefits of, opportunities for, postsecondary education; providing information to students and families regarding planning for postsecondary education, including educating them about financing options; providing information to students and parents regarding career preparation; assisting students in completing FAFSA; engaging outreach activities for students at risk of not enrolling in or completing postsecondary education; offering professional development for middle and secondary school guidance counselors, and college admissions counselors and financial 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.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
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. Cash reports are not applicable. Progress reports are not applicable. Expenditure reports are not applicable. Performance monitoring is not applicable.
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements. Grantees are subject to audit requirements as described in 34 CFR 74.26.
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.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula: Funds are awarded on a formula basis to States (or philanthropic organizations if a State does not meet program's requirement). 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. 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 1 percent of the total amount appropriated for the program.
Matching Requirements: 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.
This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details. In order to receive a CACG grant, States must meet the MOE requirement in Section 137 of the Higher Education Act, as amended. See funding agency for further details.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Grants are made annually, subject to the availability of funds. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Electronic transfer.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Headquarters Office
Karmon Simms-Coates, State Service, Office of Postsecondary Education, College Access Challenge Grant Program, 1990 K Street, NW, 6th Floor, Washington, District of Columbia 20006-8524 Email: Phone: (202) 502-7807.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Formula Grants) FY 14 $139,200,000; FY 15 est $0; and FY 16 est $0
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
No Data 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).
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.


Federal Grants Resources