|(a) To be considered for a grant under the Texas Hospital-Based Nursing Education Partnership Grant Program, a program must be determined to be eligible to apply. (1) An eligible degree program is one that offers degree programs through hospital-based nursing education partnerships which: (A) provide courses and learning experiences leading to: (i) an associate degree in nursing; (ii) a baccalaureate degree in nursing, leading to initial licensure as a registered nurse; (iii) a master's degree in nursing with a concentration in nursing education; and/or (iv) an academic program designed to advance a registered nurse from an associate degree to a bachelor of science degree in nursing or to a master of science degree in nursing with a concentration in nursing education. (B) use existing expertise and facilities of the partners. This restriction does not prohibit a hospital or nursing school from requesting grant funds to support reasonable development and initial implementation costs necessary to support a new degree program. Hospitals and nursing schools proposing an expansion of an existing degree program may request grant funds to support reasonable development and implementation costs for expanding the degree program with the specific intent to increase the number of students enrolled. Hospitals and nursing schools in existing partnerships may not request grant funds for initial or on-going costs incurred in operating an existing degree program. The Commissioner shall make the final determination of a partnership's eligibility for funding to support development and initial implementation costs. (C) meet applicable Board and Texas Board of Nursing standards for instruction and student competency, or if Texas Board of Nursing standards are not met receive approval from the Texas Board of Nursing to waive those standards as a pilot project. (D) require each nursing school participating in the partnership, as a result of the partnership, to enroll in the degree program a sufficient number of additional students. (E) propose a marginal cost to the state for the partnership producing a nursing graduate that is equal to or less than the marginal cost to the state for producing a nursing graduate. The state marginal cost is defined as all formula funding appropriations to nursing education programs on a full-time student equivalent basis. The range of acceptable marginal costs will be calculated by the Board and contained in the Request for Application. (F) provide students with appropriate clinical placements to fulfill licensing and academic requirements of the degree. (2) Application requirements. Applications for funding shall be submitted to the Board in the format and at the time specified by the Board. (3) General Selection Criteria shall be designed to award grants that provide the best overall value to the state. Selection criteria shall be based on: (A) program quality as determined by peer reviewers; (B) impact the grant award will have on academic instruction and training in nursing education in the state; (C) cost of the proposed program; and (D) other factors to be considered by the Board, including financial ability to implement the program, state and regional needs and priorities, ability to continue the program after the grant period, and past performance. (4) Maximum award length. A program is eligible to receive funding for up to three years, contingent upon available funds, submission of required documents, a positive evaluation of progress, and a positive evaluation of the effectiveness of the program after the first and second years of funding. (b) Peer Review. (1) The Board shall use peer reviewers to evaluate the quality of applications. (2) The Commissioner shall select qualified individuals to serve as reviewers. Peer reviewers shall demonstrate appropriate credentials to evaluate grant applications in nursing education. Reviewers shall not evaluate any applications for which they have a conflict of interest. (3) Board staff shall provide written instructions and training for peer reviewers. (4) The peer reviewers shall score each application according to these award criteria which incorporate the specific priority criteria stated in Texas Education Code, §61.9754: (A) Partnership design, including: (i) structure of partner participation; (ii) provision of access to clinical training positions for nursing education students in programs not participating in the partnership; (iii) provision for tracking post-graduation employment of students in a nursing education program participating in the partnership. (B) Evaluation and expected outcomes, including: (i) increase in student enrollment and graduation and in the number of nursing faculty employed by each nursing education program participating in the partnership; (ii) improvement in student retention in each nursing education program. (C) Availability of funds to match all or a portion of the grant funds; (D) Provision for completion of a class admitted under this project to be funded by all members of the partnership if the funded project ends before the class graduation date; (E) Potential replication; and (F) Sustainability of partnership beyond the grant period. (c) Application Review Process. (1) The Board staff shall review applications to determine if they adhere to the grant program requirements and the funding priorities contained in the Request for Application. Qualified applications shall be forwarded to the peer reviewers for evaluation. Board staff shall notify applicants eliminated through the screening process within 30 days of the submission deadline. (2) Peer reviewers shall evaluate applications and assign scores based on award criteria. All evaluations and scores of the reviewers are final. (3) Board staff shall rank each application based on points assigned by peer reviewers, and may request that individuals representing the most highly-ranked applications make oral presentations on their applications to the peer reviewers and Board staff. The Board staff may consider reviewer comments from the oral presentations in recommending a priority-ranked list of applications to the Commissioner for approval. (d) Funding Decisions. (1) Applications for grant funding shall be evaluated only upon the information provided in the written application. (2) The Board will approve grants based upon the recommendation of peer reviewers and Board staff. (3) Funding recommendations to the Board shall consist of the most highly ranked and recommended applications up to the limit of available funds. If available funds are insufficient to fund a proposal after the higher-ranking and recommended applications have been funded, staff shall negotiate with the applicant to determine if a lesser amount would be acceptable. If the applicant does not agree to the lesser amount, the staff shall negotiate with the next applicant on the list of highly ranked applications. (4) If the Board does not use all of the available funds for the program, unspent funds may be used to make grants under the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program and the Nursing, Allied Health, and Other-Health-related Education Grant Program. (e) Contract. Following approval of grant awards by the Board, the successful applicants must sign a contract issued by Board staff and based on the information contained in the application. (f) Cancellation or Suspension of Grants. The Board has the right to reject all applications and cancel a grant solicitation at any point. (g) Request for Proposal. The full text of the administrative regulations, budget guidelines, reporting requirements, and other standards of accountability for this program are contained in the official Request for Application available upon request from the Board. (h) Grants, Gifts, and Donations. The Board may solicit, receive, and spend grants, gifts, and donations from any public or private source for the purpose of this subchapter. (i) Administrative Costs. Three percent of any money appropriated for purposes of this subchapter may be used to pay the costs of administering the program.