U.S. Department of Education Announces More Students are Benefiting from Academic Competitiveness and Smart Grant Programs
Archived Information

January 13, 2009
Contact: Jane Glickman or Stephanie Babyak
(202) 401-1576

The U.S. Department of Education today announced that participation in the Academic Competitiveness (AC) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant programs grew by 28 percent in the 2007-08 academic year, with 95,000 more students receiving grants than in 2006-07.

For 2007-2008, a total of 401,372 students received the Academic Competitiveness grants and 66,120 students received the SMART grants, totaling $297,604,911 and $195,474,710, respectively.

"These programs have provided additional funds to low-income students across the U.S. who have taken rigorous courses in high school and are pursuing college degrees in areas vital to American competitiveness in the 21st century," said Secretary Spellings. "Academic Competitiveness and SMART grants create incentives for students to challenge themselves to succeed in college and the workforce."

The Academic Competitive and SMART grant programs were created in 2006 as part of President Bush's American Competitiveness initiative. Both programs aim to increase college access and completion for low-income students by providing additional funds to students eligible for Pell grants. They encourage students to take challenging courses in high school and to pursue degrees in math, science, technology, engineering and critical foreign languages.

First-year students who have completed a rigorous high school course of study are eligible to receive an AC grant up to $750; students who attain a 3.0 grade point average as freshmen are eligible to receive up to $1,300 in their second year. SMART grants up to $4,000 are awarded to college juniors and seniors who are studying math, science, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language and maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their major.

U.S. Department of Education staff has provided colleges and universities with training and technical assistance on administering these programs so that students and their families can take advantage of the funds available. Schools that have not awarded the grants are being asked to certify the steps they are taking to ensure participation.

Legislative changes that take effect July 1, 2009, will increase participation further by extending AC grants to students enrolled in certificate programs of at least a year in length as well as to part-time students and certain eligible non-citizens. SMART grants will be extended to fifth-year students enrolled in an academic program that takes at least five-years to complete.

The Academic Competitiveness and SMART grant national and state summaries are available at



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Last Modified: 01/13/2009