New Federal Grants to Improve College Success

May 15, 2014
Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

On May 14, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the availability of $75 million through the new First in the World (FITW) program. Grants of approximately $3 million each over four years will fund the development and testing of innovative strategies at colleges and universities to improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable for underrepresented, underprepared or low-income students. 

"This new federal grant program is an exceptional opportunity for NCAN members that are higher ed institutions," Kim Cook, NCAN's executive director, said. "We also encourage our 501(c)(3) nonprofit members to explore subgrant opportunities with their local institutional partners that could benefit their existing access and success collaborations."

Higher education institutions must submit proposals addressing at least one of these key priorities for for underrepresented, underprepared or low-income students: 
  • Boosting enrollment and attainment, or minimizing gaps between these students and their peers
  • Improving transfer rates between community college and four-year institutions
  • Increasing enrollment and completion rates in science, technology, engineering and math programs
  • Reducing time to completion
  • Increasing college affordability

Of the $75 million available, $20 million is set aside for minority-serving institutions. Applications will be available on May 16 and are due by June 30. All grants will be awarded by September. ED will post further information, including information about webinars and other technical assistance, on the Fund for Improvement in Postsecondary Education web page. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz will hold a conference call about the grant program on May 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. To participate in the call, email with “RSVP for FITW” in the subject line by COB on May 19.  The number of lines may be limited, so RSVPs will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

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