Washington Watch: Apply for institutional aid eligibility

Colleges have until March 1 to apply to be designated eligible for Title III and IV grant funding.

The U.S. Education Department will post a notice in the Federal Register at a future date about the application process for specific Title III and V grants.

Community colleges serving large numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation students — while demonstrating lower-than-average per student expenditures — may be eligible for funds under these institutional aid programs. College wishing to apply for a grant must first meet the criteria for designation of eligibility before applying for a specific grant. The two-step process is required even for colleges that have a current Title III or V grant.

Read here about the application process for eligibility.

Title III programs

While the competition for these awards is fierce, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has successfully made the case for funding increases for these programs. Congress approved nearly $100 million for fiscal year 2019 funding for the Strengthening Institutions program (Title III-A). As a result, the department is expected to award an additional 40 new grants this year. Community colleges are strongly encouraged to apply.

Community colleges receive most of the funding through Title III-A, which supports improvement of academic programs, institutional management and fiscal stability. College may also use the grants for institutional planning, faculty development, scientific or laboratory equipment, endowment building and developing student support services.

Title III also includes several programs specifically for designated eligible minority-serving institutions. Funding for these programs is awarded both competitively and by a formula that directs aid to specific types of these institutions. For example, the Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions program supports colleges with undergraduate enrollments that are at least 20 percent Alaska Native and at least 10 percent Native Hawaiian students, respectively. The predominantly black institutions program makes awards to primarily urban and rural two-year colleges that have enrollments of at least 40 percent African-American and serve at least 50 percent low-income and first-generation college students.

Related story: A helping hand to minority-serving colleges

The Title III programs also include specific ones for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), and Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs). The HBCU grants are directed to eligible institutions that were established prior to 1964 and retain a primary mission of educating African Americans. Grants for the TCCUs support 35 tribal institutions. AANAPISI grants support institutions with undergraduate enrollments of at least 10 percent Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students.

Title V programs

Similarly, the Title V-A Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) program funds competitive grants to help expand and enhance academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of colleges and universities with enrollments of at least 25 percent Hispanic students. Five-year individual development grants, five-year cooperative arrangement development grants, and one-year planning grants may be awarded under Title V, Part A. The program was funded at the $117 million level in both FY 2016 and FY 2017, but boosted to $134 million in FY 2018 and to $135.58 million in FY 2019. The number of eligible HSIs, including community colleges continues to grow, with many institutions just under the 25 percent threshold.

About the Author

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