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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

ED Invites Applications for Strengthening Institutions and Minority Programs

December 16, 2010

Institutions serving low-income or minority students may apply for designation as an eligible institution under Title III or Title V of the Higher Education Act. In addition to possible grant funding, institutions that meet certain criteria--including those based on enrollment of needy students and low per-student Education and General (E&G) expenditures--are eligible for a waiver for five years of matching requirements for some student aid programs. 

Title III and Title V authorize a variety of grants for institutions, including the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) and programs targeted to institutions that serve identified populations such as Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans. Specific eligibility requirements are described in the program regulations. 

The requirements for applying are laid out in a December 8 Federal Register notice. Institutions that wish to be designated as eligible to apply for a new grant under one of these programs during FY11 must submit  applications by January 31. Note that this is not a grant application; this process only establishes an institution's eligibility for the grant programs. Institutions that applied for eligibility designation last fall for FY10 grants must reapply if they wish to seek new grants in FY11. 

For those that only want to qualify for the cost-sharing waivers, the deadline is February 28. Waiver eligibility lasts for five years, so unless the institution intends to seek new grant funding, it will not need to reapply for eligibility until 2016. 

In addition to any program-specific requirements, an institution must meet the following criteria to qualify for these programs. FY2008-09 data will be used for these purposes, since that is the most recent year for which national data is available. 

  • Enrollment of needy students. This can be demonstrated in one of two ways:

o   At least 50 percent of degree students received financial aid from the Pell Grant or campus-based programs (FSEOG, FWS, Perkins Loan); or

o   The percentage of the institution's undergraduate degree-seeking students who were enrolled at least half-time and received Pell grants exceeded the median percentage of such students at comparable institutions. The median Pell grant percentage is around 25 percent for public and nonprofit institutions, with the exception of private two-year colleges where the median is 35 percent. A table with the precise figures for each category of institution is included in the Federal Register notice. 

  • Low average E&G expenditures per student. The institution's average E&G expenditures per full-time equivalent student (for FY2008-09) must be less than the national average for its type of institution. The chart in the Federal Register notice shows average E&G expenditures per FTE ranging from $11,111 for public two-year colleges to $45,093 for independent four-year institutions. 

Institutions that cannot meet one of these requirements may apply to the Secretary of Education for a waiver.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs