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Grants to Maryland IHEs to Increase Graduation
Rates for Students Who Have Dropped Out

One Step Away Grant Program

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Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)

Deadline Date:

05/21/21 5:00 PM


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Grants of up to $60,000 to Maryland colleges and universities to increase graduation rates. Funding is intended to support programs that target students who have dropped out or fallen short of their academic credit requirements. Grants are available to allow institutions to identify, contact, re-enroll, and graduate "near-completer students." These are students who have earned 75% or more credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree; or may have enough credits for an associate or bachelor’s degree, but have stopped-out or dropped-out for 12 consecutive months or longer without obtaining a degree.

Institutions are encouraged to specifically target near-completers who may be able to complete within the institution’s reported six-year graduation rate (i.e. initial enrollment in 2014-2015 academic year). Institutions may also include near-completers from earlier initial enrollment years, as long as the “six-year graduation cohort” is not excluded from the outreach and recruitment efforts. 

Near-completer students may be identified as degree-eligible or degree-potential, defined as follows:

  • Degree-eligible: Students who have accumulated the required number of credits, completed required courses, and hold a grade point average (GPA) above the minimum required for a degree, but have not received an associate or bachelor’s degree. These students may not realize that they have met the degree qualification threshold within their program of study; may qualify for a degree that is different than the one they were initially seeking; or they may not have met residency requirements or non-academic testing requirements associated with degree completion. This category also includes students who have earned but not received a degree award due to financial holds or incomplete paperwork.
  • Degree-potential: Students that have earned at least 75% of the credits needed for an associate or bachelor’s degree and/or still need to fulfill specific course or competency requirements. These students may be “nearly eligible” for the degree they were originally seeking, or another academically similar degree.

Proposals must address the overarching grant program goals by including three or more of the following objectives:

  • Objective 1: Develop new and/or improve existing outreach strategies to inform and encourage near-completers to re-enroll in college.
  • Objective 2: Enhance student support systems to include academic, financial, and/or social advising that facilitate smooth re-entry into the educational environment and retention through degree completion.
  • Objective 3: Increase re-enrollment rates of near-completers by offering a track/plan of study which will increase the speed of completion.
  • Objective 4: Establish and implement prior learning assessments or competency based testing to award college credit for returning adult learners.
  • Objective 5: Develop a general studies or other type of associate or bachelor’s degree program for which students who have accumulated a high number of credits (45 or 75 credits for an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree respectively), but not necessarily the correct credits for the originally intended degree program may qualify.
  • Objective 6: Increase re-enrollment rates of near-completers by offering new campus- based sustainable financial aid options using campus or other financial aid resources for support such as textbook waivers and/or tuition discounts.

For details about fundable activities, see:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 143691

Estimated Size of Grant:

Up to $60,000 may be requested per institution

Term of Contract:

Grant Period: June 18, 2021 through August 26, 2022

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All accredited Maryland public and nonprofit independent two- and four-year, associate and bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities are eligible.

Pre-Application Information:

- Request for Proposals Issued: April 19, 2021
- Technical Assistance: For technical assistance, contact Benée Edwards 3:00 p.m. on April 30, 2021
- Applications Due by 5:00 p.m. to MHEC May 21, 2021
- Award Notifications (via email, by12:00 am midnight) June 18, 2021
- Grant Project Start Date June 18, 2021
- Grantee Post Award Data Submission Instructions June 2021
- First Payment - 50% of Award Funds June 2021
- Institutions forward One Step Away Student List to MHEC to match with MVA records by June 22, 2021
- MHEC forwards One Step Away Student List with updated addresses to institutions July 9, 2021

Institutions must provide in-kind or matching funds in an amount equal to at least 1/3 of the total project cost.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit applications to:
Beneé Edwards, DBA

Office of Outreach and Grants Management
Maryland Higher Education Commission
6 North Liberty Street, 10th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Maryland

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