Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need

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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program?
  2. Who is eligible for a grant?
  3. What are the areas of national need?
  4. What is included in the grant?
  5. What is the amount of a grant?
  6. What is the duration of a grant?
  7. What is the institutional matching contribution?
  8. What are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary applications?
  9. When are reports due?
  10. What is a PR number?
  11. How many fellows will I receive?
  12. When do I ask for a time extension?
  13. Will I have to re-apply to get my grant renewed?
  14. What are performance measures?

How Does an Institution of Higher Education Apply for a Grant?

  1. How does an institution of higher education apply for a grant?
  2. Am I required to submit my application electronically?

How are Fellows Selected?

  1. How does an academic department select fellows?
  2. What conditions must be met by a fellow?
  3. How does an individual apply for a fellowship?

How Does the Secretary Distribute Funds?

  1. What are the Secretary's payment procedures?
  2. What is the amount of a stipend?
  3. What is the amount of the institutional payment?

What are the Administrative Responsibilities of the Institution?

  1. When does an academic department make a commitment to a fellow to provide stipend support?
  2. How must the academic department supervise the progress and training of fellows?
  3. How can the institutional payment be used?
  4. How can the institutional matching contribution be used?
  5. What are unallowable costs?
  6. What records and reports are required from the institution?
  7. Are GAANN stipends taxable?

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General Questions

1. What is the purpose of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program?
The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program provides fellowships through academic departments of institutions of higher education to assist graduate students of superior ability who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course of study at the institution.

2. Who is eligible for a grant?
Any academic department or unit of an institution of higher education that provides a course of study that:

  1. Leads to a the highest degree in an area of national need; and
  2. Has been in existence for at least four years at the time of an application for a grant under this part.

The Secretary does not award a grant under this part for study at a school or department of divinity. For more information please see program regulation 34 CFR 648.2.

3. What are the areas of national need?
A project must provide fellowships in one or more of the following areas of national need: Area studies; biology sciences/life sciences; chemistry; computer and information sciences; engineering; foreign languages and literature; mathematics; nursing; physics; and educational evaluation, research, and statistics. The areas of national need are published annually in the Federal Register.

Please note both nursing and educational evaluation, research, and statistics programs must meet certain criteria:

  • Nursing programs must focus on the preparation of nurse scholars at the Masters and PhD levels for educational leadership roles. Graduates will become teachers preparing students for careers in nursing, and will disseminate to the public new knowledge gained from disciplined inquiry related to nursing and nursing education. The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for Nursing programs is 51.16.
  • Educational Evaluation, Research, and Statistics programs must focus on preparing students at the Masters and PhD levels who will be trained in statistics and measurement theory to become psychometricians. These psychometrics programs focus on the principles and procedures for designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating test and other mechanisms used to measure learning, evaluate student progress and assess the performance of specific teaching tools, strategies and curricula. The CIP code for Educational Evaluation and Research programs is 13.06. Note: Educational Psychology (CIP code 13.08) does not qualify under this requirement.
  • Applications from Area Studies programs focus on the preparation of teachers and/or researchers at the Masters or PhD level, whichever is the highest degree awarded in the area of need at the institution. The CIP code for Areas Studies programs is 05.01.
  • Applications from Foreign Languages and Literatures programs focus on the preparation of teachers and/or researchers at the Masters or PhD level, whichever is the highest degree awarded in the area of need at the institution.The CIP code for Foreign Languages and Literatures is 16.01.
  • For further information about the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes, please see Appendix to Part 648 of the GAANN Regulations.

4. What is included in the grant?
Each grant awarded by the Secretary consists of the following:

  1. The stipends paid by the Secretary through the institution of higher education to fellows. The stipend provides an allowance to a fellow for the fellow's (and his or her dependents') subsistence and other expenses; and
  2. The institutional payments paid by the Secretary to the institution of higher education to be applied against each fellow's tuition, fees, and the costs listed in 34 CFR 648.62(b) of the program regulations.

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5. What is the amount of a grant?
The amount of a grant to an academic department may not be less than $100,000 and may not be more than $750,000 in a fiscal year and in any fiscal year, no academic department may receive more than $750,000 as an aggregate total of new and continuing grants.

6. What is the duration of a grant?
The duration of a grant awarded under this part is a maximum of three annual budget periods during a three-year (36-month) project period.

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7. What is the institutional matching contribution?
An institution shall provide, from non-Federal funds, an institutional matching contribution equal to at least 25 percent of the amount of the grant received under this part, for the uses indicated in 34 CFR 648.63.

8. What are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary applications?
Interdisciplinary applications are applications that request funding for a single proposed program of study that involves academic fields in two or more disciplines. Multidiscipline applications are applications that request funding for two or more proposed programs of study that are independent and unrelated to one another.

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9. When are reports due?
Annual performance reports are due at the end of April. Final performance reports are due 90 days after the close of a grant.

10. What is a PR number?
A PR number is the number assigned to the application once it has been received by the Department of Education. The PR number should be used whenever you contact the Department to inquire about your proposal/application.

11. How many fellows will I receive?
The number of fellowships awarded is based on several factors, such as the amount of funding available for new awards, the number of proposals submitted and the relative quality of each proposal. The number of fellowships awarded per institution can range from three to ten.

12. When do I ask for a time extension?
You must notify us should you need a one-time, no-cost time extension to complete grant activities. Notification must be submitted up to 45 days prior to the end of the three-year award so that we may process your request in a timely manner. However, you must request via e-mail a second no-cost time extension for up to 12 months 45 days before the extended expiration date. Please include in your request:

  1. PR number;
  2. The extension dates;
  3. The amount you estimate to spend during the extended period; and
  4. The reason for the extension.

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13. Will I have to re-apply to get a grant renewal?
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need is a grant competition. We do not have grant renewals. If a grant is ending, you must compete in the next competition in order to be funded again. There is no guarantee that you will be successful simply because you were previously funded.

14. What are performance measures?
Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), three measures have been developed for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the GAANN Program:

  1. To increase the percentage of GAANN fellows completing the terminal degree in the designated areas of national need;
  2. To increase the percentage of GAANN fellows from traditionally underrepresented groups enrolled in a terminal degree program in the designated areas of national need; and
  3. To decrease the time to completion of Master’s and Doctorate degrees for GAANN students.

All grantees are expected to submit an annual performance report documenting their success in addressing these performance measures and to submit a final performance report 90 days after the close of their grant.

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How Does an Institution of Higher Education Apply for a Grant?

15. How does an institution of higher education apply for a grant?
To apply for a grant under this part, an institution of higher education shall submit an application in response to a closing date notice published in the Federal Register. The applicant must respond to the appropriate selection criteria found in GAANN regulations. See program regulation 34 CFR 648.20.

16. Am I required to submit my application electronically?
Yes. Applications must be submitted electronically using the governmentwide Grants.gov Web site at www.Grants.gov. Through this site, you will be able to download a copy of the application package, complete it offline, and then upload and submit your application.

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How are Fellows Selected?

17. How does an academic department select fellows?
In selecting individuals to receive fellowships, an academic department shall consider only individuals who:

  1. Are currently enrolled as graduate students, have been accepted at the grantee institution, or are enrolled or accepted as graduate students at an eligible non-degree granting institution;
  2. Are of superior ability;
  3. Have an excellent academic record;
  4. Have financial need;
  5. Are planning to pursue the highest possible degree available in their course of study;
  6. Are planning a career in teaching or research;
  7. Are not ineligible to receive assistance under 34 CFR 75.60; and
  8. Are:
    1. United States citizens or nationals;
    2. Permanent residents of the United States; or
    3. Provide evidence from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that they are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming permanent residents.

For more information please see program regulation 34 CFR 648.40.

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18. What conditions must be met by a fellow?
To continue to be eligible for a fellowship, a fellow must:

  1. Maintain satisfactory progress in the program for which the fellowship was awarded;
  2. Devote essentially full time to study or research in the academic field in which the fellowship was awarded; and
  3. Not engage in gainful employment, except on a part-time basis in teaching, research, or similar activities determined by the academic department to be in support of the fellow's progress toward a degree.

19. How does an individual apply for a fellowship?
An individual shall apply directly to an academic department of an institution of higher education that has received a GAANN grant. For more information see 34 CFR 648.41.

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How Does the Secretary Distribute Funds?

20. What are the Secretary's payment procedures?
The Secretary awards to the institution of higher education a stipend and an institutional payment for each individual awarded a fellowship. If a grantee has not placed fellows within two years of receiving a grant, the grantee may not be eligible for third-year funding. See 34 CFR 648.50 (a) and (b) for more information.

21. What is the amount of a stipend?
The institution shall pay the fellow a stipend at a level of support equal to that provided by the National Science Foundation graduate fellowships, except that this amount must be adjusted as necessary so as not to exceed the fellow's demonstrated level of financial need as determined under Part F of Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The Secretary announces the amount of the stipend in a notice published in the Federal Register. See program regulations 34 CFR 648.51 for more information.

STIPEND AMOUNTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE ANNUALLY.

22. What is the amount of the institutional payment?
The Secretary adjusts the amount of the institutional payment annually in accordance with inflation as determined by the United States Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for the previous calendar year. The Secretary announces the amount of the institutional payment in a notice published in the Federal Register. For more information see program regulations 34 CFR 648.52.

INSTITUTIONAL PAYMENT IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ANNUALLY.

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What are the Administrative Responsibilities of the Institution?

23. When does an academic department make a commitment to a fellow to provide stipend support?
An academic department makes a commitment to a fellow at any point in his or her graduate study for the length of time necessary for the fellow to complete the course of graduate study, but in no case longer than five years. See program regulation 34 CFR 648.60.

24. How must the academic department supervise the progress and training of fellows?
The institution must ensure that the GAANN fellow is performing satisfactory progress during the fellow's study. The institution shall provide to fellows at least one academic year of supervised training in instruction at the graduate or undergraduate level at the schedule of at least one-half-time teaching assistant.

25. How can the institutional payment be used?
The institutional payment must be first applied against a fellow's tuition and fees. After payment of a fellow's tuition and fees, the institutional payment may be applied against educational expenses of the fellow that are not covered by tuition and fees and are related to the academic program in which the fellow is enrolled. These expenses include the following:

  1. Costs for rental or purchase of any books, materials, or supplies required of students in the same course of study; and
  2. Costs of computer hardware, project-specific software, and other equipment prorated by the length of the student's fellowship over the reasonable life of the equipment.

For more information see program regulation 34 CFR 648.62.

26. How can the institutional matching contribution be used?
The institutional matching contribution may be used to:

  1. Provide additional fellowships to graduate students who are not already receiving fellowships under this part and who satisfy the requirements of 34 CFR 648.40;
  2. Pay for tuition, fees, and the costs listed in 34 CFR 648.62(b);
  3. Pay for costs of providing a fellow's instruction that are not included in the tuition or fees paid to the institution in which the fellow is enrolled; and
  4. Supplement the stipend received by a fellow under 34 CFR 648.51 in an amount not to exceed a fellow's financial need.

An institution may not use its institutional matching contribution to fund fellowships that were funded by the institution prior to the award of the grant.

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27. What are unallowable costs?
Neither grant funds nor the institutional matching funds may be used to pay for general operational overhead costs of the academic department. General operational overhead costs are defined as means of non-instructional expenses incurred by an academic department in the normal administration and conduct of its academic program, including the costs of supervision, recruitment, capital outlay, debt service, indirect costs, or any other costs not included in the determination of tuition and non-refundable fee charges.

28. What records and reports are required from the institution?
An institution of higher education that receives a grant shall provide to the Secretary, prior to the receipt of grant funds for disbursement to a fellow, a certification that the fellow is enrolled in, is making satisfactory progress in, and is devoting essentially full time to study in the academic field for which the grant was made.

An institution of higher education that receives a grant shall keep records necessary to establish:

  1. That each student receiving a fellowship satisfies the eligibility requirements in 34 CFR 648.40;
  2. The time and amount of all disbursements and return of stipend payments;
  3. The appropriate use of the institutional payment; and
  4. That assurances, policies, and procedures provided in its application have been satisfied.

29. Are GAANN stipends taxable?
It is important that students selected to receive GAANN funding be aware that they are responsible for taxes on their award. Because the tax laws change, it is the student's responsibility to contact the Internal Revenue Service at the beginning of their award to determine their financial responsibility.

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Last Modified: 09/16/2013