Washington Watch: Spotlight on Title III and V programs

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Funding for federal Title III and Title V programs — geared toward colleges that serve a disproportionate number of minorities, low-income and first-generation students — is on solid footing.

Congress has finally wrapped up appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020, with a final vote expected in the Senate on December 19, followed by the president’s expected signature. The American Association of Community Colleges advocated for increases in the Title III and Title V programs. These programs are slated for 15 percent increases, except the Strengthening Institutions (Title III-A) program, which is getting an 8 percent increase.

Another boost for these colleges comes from the recently passed FUTURE Act (H.R. 5363), which will mandate $255 million annually for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Community colleges represent a significant portion of MSIs, which are funded through Titles III and V. For example, nearly half of the nation’s 523 Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) are public two-year colleges, and each year more are added. (Hispanic students comprise at least a quarter of full-time equivalent enrollment at HSIs.)

A two-step application process

Applying for Title III and Title V funding is a two-step process. Once the U.S. Education Department (ED) deems applying colleges eligible for such funding, they can then apply for the grant. ED this week published a notice in the Federal Register that provides guidance to colleges interested in participating in the Title III and Title V programs. (Check here to see if your college is currently eligible.) Colleges that need initial designation have until January 15 to apply.

Waivers for matching funds

As explained in the Federal Register notice, designated Title III and Title V institutions can apply for a waiver of the matching funds requirements for the Federal Work Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) programs. Colleges participating in these programs usually must provide matching funds for each program. However, institutions designated as Title III or Title V eligible for FY 2020 — even if they do not receive a competitive grant under these programs — are eligible for waivers.

Expect an announcement of the next grant competitions for Title III and Title V in the spring.

About the Author

Laurie Quarles
is a legislative resource associate at the American Association of Community Colleges.