Department Releases Unofficial SSS Application Information Ahead of Pre-Application Workshops

December 3, 2019

On Friday, November 29, the U.S. Department of Education sent a draft SSS request for proposal (RFP) Document is available for download (.pdf) and their workshop PowerPoint presentation Document is available for download (.pdf) to everyone who registered for their Student Support Services pre-application workshops. Please note that while the draft RFP includes only limited additional information (i.e., Competitive Preference Priorities, page numbers), more details about the competition appear in the PowerPoint presentation. Because these materials are only internal drafts, it remains unclear when the final RFP will be published or what the closing date will be.

We ask you to pay close attention to the following pieces of information:

  • Application — Competition Highlights pp. 5-7;
  • Application — The Competitive Preference Priorities, p. 68;
  • Application — Instructions for the Project Narrative, pp. 76-79;
  • ED PowerPoint — Slides 8-11 which discuss budget;
  • ED PowerPoint — Slide 58 which provides additional information on the Competitive Preference Priorities; and
  • ED PowerPoint — Slide 53 which is ED’s example of a Logic Model.

COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS tells us 1) that the competition will close at 11:59:59 Eastern Time of the unknown closing date (#4); 2) that ED is recommending but not requiring a 65 page limit (#6); 3) that attachments may be included either as PDF or in Microsoft Word; and 4) the two Competitive Preference Priorities (#8) are:

  • #1: Competitive Preference Priority 1 — Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills: Improving collaboration between education providers and employers to ensure student learning objectives are aligned with the skills or knowledge required for employment in in-demand industry sector or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014).

  • #2: Competitive Preference Priority 2 — Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens; Supporting instruction in personal financial literacy, knowledge of markets and economics, knowledge of higher education financing and repayment (e.g. college savings and student loans), or other skills aimed at building personal financial understanding and responsibility.

THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROJECT NARRATIVE discuss formatting and the new section, “Demonstrates a Rationale.”

  • Recommended formatting (p. 77) is an 8.5” x 11”” page, on one side only with 1” margins at the top, bottom and both sides. Double-space all text, and single-space titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, references and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures and graphs. Use a 12 point font such as Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New or Arial. Page numbers and an identified may be within the margin. While this is recommended by ED and no proposal will be eliminated for not following these guidelines, COE strongly recommends that you do follow them.

  • The Demonstrates a rational (section H) means a key project component included in the project’s logic model is informed by research or evaluation findings that suggest the project component is likely to improve relevant outcomes.


  • Slides 8-11 discuss the budget which you can request. For continuing programs, your funding level for 2019-2020 is all you are able to request. This does not mean that continuing projects will not receive an increase but the appropriations level for TRIO has not yet been agreed upon. The maximum that new applications are able to request is listed by type on p. 8.

  • Slide 58 states there is a 3 page limit for each Competitive Preference Priority.

The Council for Opportunity in Educaiton (COE) will host webinars for Institutional Members on the Competitive Preference Priorities and Section H Demonstrates a Rational as more information becomes available. COE remains committed to keeping you updated as we receive new information.