Academic Competitiveness Grants


To provide eligible first and second-year full-time undergraduates who have completed a rigorous course of study in high school with need-based grant assistance to help meet educational expenses.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Deleted 01/15/2013 (Archived.)
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Education
Office: Office of Postsecondary Education
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2010: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2011: Estimated 0 recipients. Fiscal Year 2012: No Current Data Available
Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, Executive Order Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1, Section 401A.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Undergraduate students enrolled as full-time regular students in an eligible program at an eligible institution of higher education and making satisfactory academic progress. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have a high school diploma, a GED, or demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program of study offered.
Beneficiary Eligibility
First- and second- year undergraduate students who are U.S citizens and are eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. Students must be full-time regular students in an eligible program at an eligible institution of higher education and making satisfactory academic progress. A first-year undergraduate must also be a first-time undergraduate, enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a 2- or 4-year degree-granting institution, and have completed, after January 1, 2006, a rigorous secondary school program. A second-year undergraduate at such an institution must have completed such a rigorous program after January 1, 2005, and have obtained a cumulative grade-point-average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in the first academic year as an undergraduate. In addition, students must sign a statement of educational purpose, not owe a refund on a Title IV grant, and not be in default on a Title IV loan. Eligible males that are at least 18 years old and born after December 31, 1950, can receive aid only if they have registered with the Selective Service.
No Credentials or documentation are required. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. Student completes a "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" and submits it to the agency specified on the form. Students may apply using a paper application, an electronic application, or via the Internet. The Department of Education calculates the student's eligibility for assistance and the agency to which the student sent the application returns a notification to the student of his or her eligibility for assistance. The student submits this notification to the institution of his or her choice in order to have his or her award calculated.
Award Procedure
Institutions act as disbursing agents for the Department of Education. The institution that the student attends calculates and disburses the Academic Competitiveness Grants, using a payment schedule developed by the Department of Education that determines the amount of the award based on the amount of available funding and the estimated number of recipients.
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks.
An institution, on the basis of supplemental documentation, may rule that an applicant is self-supporting, even though under the standard criteria, the applicant would normally be considered financially dependent on his or her parents. An institution may adjust on a case-by-case basis a student's data elements used to calculate his or her EFC and cost of attendance due to unusual circumstances documented by the institution.
Students who have applied in the previous award year may be eligible to complete a paper or electronic renewal application that contains preprinted student data and requires students only to update certain information.
How are proposals selected?
Not Applicable.
How may assistance be used?
The student must be a U.S. citizen who has been accepted for enrollment in, and is making satisfactory progress at an eligible institution of higher education. Eligible schools may be public or private non-profit institutions of higher education (such as colleges, universities, vocational technical schools, hospital schools of nursing), and for-profit institutions (proprietary). Eligible males who are at least 18 years or older and born after December 31, 1959, can receive aid only if they have registered with the Selective Service. Graduate students and students who have already earned a bachelor's degree are not eligible for assistance. Recipients must demonstrate need according to Part F of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Institutions will be required to furnish reports, periodically, on the disbursement of funds, as well as furnish any other reports the Secretary requires. No reports are required of students. Cash reports are not applicable. Progress reports are not applicable. Expenditure reports are not applicable. Performance monitoring is not applicable.
This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-133. Annual audits will be made.
All records pertaining to the eligibility of each Academic Competitiveness Grant recipient and all fiscal management records must be maintained by the institution for a period of 3 years or until an acceptable audit has been completed, whichever is later. Selected students will have the information on their applications verified.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this program.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Students are limited to one Academic Competitiveness Grant during any award year (July 1 through June 30). Funds for these grants are usually disbursed at least twice during an award year. Students may only receive an Academic Competitiveness Grant until they have received a bachelor's degree. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Electronic transfer.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Headquarters Office
Federal Student Aid Information Center, Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, District of Columbia 20202 Phone: (800) 433-3243.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 09 $511,507,000; FY 10 $678,184,000; FY 11 $0
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Grants are up to $750 for first-year students and up to $1,300 for second-year students. In combination with other Federal student aid, awards may not exceed a student's cost of education. FY 08 the estimated average grant is $762.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Contact the program office for more information.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.