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Indian Education Professional Development Grants

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  1. GENERAL APPLICATION QUESTIONS: What is the Professional Development (PD) grant program and who can apply?
  2. When does an applicant need to submit a consortium agreement?
  3. Will the U.S. Department of Education (Department) consider making PD grants to a two-year IHE as the lead applicant in a consortium?
  4. What should a two-year IHE consider when developing a consortium agreement with a degree granting IHE?
  5. Can an entity submit more than one application?
  6. What issues might prevent applications from being considered for funding?
  7. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCE PRIORITIES: What are the absolute priorities in this competition?
  8. Can an application target both teacher and administrator training?
  9. What is pre-service training?
  10. Who would be an ideal candidate for the pre-service teacher program?
  11. Can the PD grant provide training to qualified Indian individuals to become teacher aides or ancillary educational personnel?
  12. Who would be an ideal candidate for the pre-service administrator training?
  13. What level of education is required for pre-service administrator training under Absolute Priority Two?
  14. What is a Competitive Preference Priority?
  15. What is Competitive Preference Priority One?
  16. What is Competitive Preference Priority Two?
  17. What is Competitive Preference Priority Three?
  18. SELECTION CRITERIA QUESTIONS: How should an applicant conduct a job market analysis under the selection criterion “Need for Project”?
  19. How can an applicant demonstrate that it has adequate procedures to ensure continuous improvement, as required under the selection criterion “Quality of Management Plan”?
  20. PROGRAM COSTS: What costs are permitted under these grants?
  21. What kinds of costs may be covered under the PD program?
  22. What types of expenses are direct program costs, rather than training costs?
  23. What are the maximum stipend and dependent care allowances that we can include when developing the budget?
  24. When can students receive stipends?
  25. My Indirect Cost Rate Agreement is scheduled to expire shortly after I could expect to receive an award. What should I do?
  26. PAYBACK REQUIREMENTS: What are the grantee’s obligations relating to payback?
  27. Is the grantee responsible for tracking payback obligation of the participants?
  28. Must grantees help participants find qualified employment?
  29. What payback requirements apply to participants?
  30. Does the payback requirement apply to all categories of financial aid, or just funding received through the PD program?
  31. How is the payback obligation calculated?
  32. Can a participant provide both work-related and cash payback?
  33. If a participant is dismissed or drops out of a program, will he or she be required to fulfill the work-related payback or cash repayment requirement?

1. GENERAL APPLICATION QUESTIONS: What is the Professional Development (PD) grant program and who can apply?

The purposes of the Indian education professional development program are to: 1) increase the number of qualified Indian individuals in professions that serve Indians; 2) provide training to qualified Indian individuals to become teachers, administrators, teacher aides, social workers, and ancillary educational personnel; and 3) improve the skills of qualified Indian individuals who serve in the education field. To apply for this competition, an applicant must be: 1) an institution of higher education (IHE), including an Indian IHE or 2) a State educational agency (SEA), a local educational agency (LEA), an Indian tribe, an Indian organization, or a Bureau of Indian Education (Bureau or BIE)-funded school, in consortium with an IHE. Any IHE, Indian IHE, or Indian organization applicant must meet the definitions of those terms, as established in 34 CFR 263.3. The term “BIE-funded school” includes tribally-controlled schools funded by BIE, as well as individual BIE-operated schools.

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2. When does an applicant need to submit a consortium agreement?

A consortium agreement is a required element of a group application submitted by two or more eligible entities (IHE, SEA, LEA, Indian tribe, two-year tribal college, or BIE-funded school). All projects must include an entity that can award the level of degree required by the project. For example when a two-year college forms a consortium with an IHE in order to award the degree required by the project, the consortium is an ideal option, because only the IHE in this scenario would be able to provide the required level of degree. In order to be eligible for the five Competitive Preference Priority Two points however, the consortium would need to include an Indian tribe, Indian organization or Indian IHE as the lead applicant. All consortium agreements must meet the requirements of 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129.

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3. Will the U.S. Department of Education (Department) consider making PD grants to a two-year IHE as the lead applicant in a consortium?

Yes. Since all projects must include an entity that can award the level of degree required by the project, a two-year IHE which does not have a degree granting authority cannot apply as an individual applicant. However, if a two-year IHE forms a consortium with an IHE that can award the level of degree required for the project, the two-year IHE could serve as the lead applicant in the consortium.

In this case, the application must include a consortium agreement and outline the relationship between the two-year IHE and the degree-granting IHE. The participants being recruited should already have completed their general requirements with the two-year IHE and must be enrolled or be eligible to enroll in degree-required coursework at the IHE. The participants should also be eligible for State certification or licensure in time to participate in induction services within the four-year grant period.

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4. What should a two-year IHE consider when developing a consortium agreement with a degree granting IHE?

In developing a consortium with a degree granting IHE, a two-year IHE should consider whether the degree-granting IHE can provide the credentials that will be necessary in the likely area of employment. The two-year IHE should consider the location of the degree-granting IHE and the location, licensing, credentialing, and employability of the participants. Some States may not grant reciprocity for out-of-state teachers, or accept their out-of-state qualifications and experience in the certification process. All educators must be certified in the State in which they are employed, and the requirements vary between States. Consortium agreements should also consider proximity when developing these linkages and try to maintain the local integrity of the degree pursued. For example, a two-year non-degree granting institution that partners with a degree-granting institution in another State may not be able to offer the appropriate credits to obtain qualifying experience in the student’s home state.

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5. Can an entity submit more than one application?

Yes. An entity may submit multiple applications, but each application will be separately reviewed and scored for quality. The proposed projects in any application should not refer to services or activities that would be provided by a project described in another application.

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6. What issues might prevent applications from being considered for funding?

All applicants must follow the application process described in the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) and the Application Package. Any deviations from this process may prevent the Department from reviewing a grant application for funding.

For example, an application may not be reviewed if the application:

  • Includes an ineligible partner;
  • Includes an unsigned consortium agreement;
  • Proposes a budget for a project period that exceeds 48 months;
  • Proposes a budget that exceeds the maximum amount;
  • Fails to include a project narrative in the application;
  • Includes documents that are not in a PDF format;
  • Is submitted as a paper application without prior approval; or
  • Is submitted after the deadline.
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7. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCE PRIORITIES: What are the absolute priorities in this competition?

This competition has two absolute priorities; to receive a grant, applicants must meet one or both of these priorities. Under both absolute priorities, projects must provide support and training to Indian individuals to complete a pre-service education program before the end of the award period that enables individuals to meet requirements for full State certification or licensure. Pre-service training is defined in 34 CFR 263.3 as training to Indian individuals to prepare them to meet the requirements for licensing or certification in a professional field requiring at least a baccalaureate degree. Under Absolute Priority One, applicants provide this training for teachers; under Absolute Priority Two, applicants provide this training for administrators.

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8. Can an application target both teacher and administrator training?

Yes. As long as a lead applicant or consortium partner offers both a degree enabling education licensure and a graduate degree enabling administrator certification, an application can target both teacher and administrator training. An applicant proposing to administer both teacher and administrator training programs should include separate goals for recruitment, retention, graduation, and employment for each participant population

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9. What is pre-service training?

Pre-service training is defined in 34 CFR 263.3, and means training to Indian individuals to prepare them to meet the requirements for licensing or certification in a professional field (in this case, education) requiring at least a baccalaureate degree. This training must be provided before the participating individuals become certified as teachers or administrators.

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10. Who would be an ideal candidate for the pre-service teacher program?

Ideal candidates would be Indian individuals who have completed their general undergraduate requirements and are enrolled in, or eligible to be enrolled in, education coursework in pre-service teacher training. The required undergraduate degree should meet State certification or licensure in the State in which the participant is likely to be employed, and participants must be able to participate in induction services within the four-year grant period.

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11. Can the PD grant provide training to qualified Indian individuals to become teacher aides or ancillary educational personnel?

No. The absolute priorities limit project services to pre-service teacher or administrator training, which results in a degree required to meet State certification or licensure in the State in which a participant is likely to be employed. Training for teacher aides and ancillary educational personnel is not permitted under either absolute priority.

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12. Who would be an ideal candidate for the pre-service administrator training?

Ideal candidates would be Indian individuals who are interested in becoming eligible to serve as administrators in LEAs that serve Indian students. Participants may already be teachers and may already have knowledge of administrative responsibilities. All participants should be committed to earning the graduate degree required to meet State certification or licensure in the State in which the participant is likely to be employed.

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13. What level of education is required for pre-service administrator training under Absolute Priority Two?

Under Absolute Priority Two, training for participants must result in a graduate degree in educational administration, and must allow participants to meet the requirements for State certification or licensure as an education administrator. The requirements for certification or licensure vary across States; accordingly, any applicant should consult with its State education licensure office.

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14. What is a Competitive Preference Priority?

We award additional points to an application that meets one or more of the competitive preference priorities for this program. In the NIA for the PD competition, we have three competitive preference priorities. These points are in addition to the up to 100 points available under the selection criteria.

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15. What is Competitive Preference Priority One?

The Department will award five additional points to an application that includes a letter of support signed by the authorized representative of an LEA or Department of the Interior (DOI) BIE-funded school or other entity in the applicant's service area that agrees to consider program graduates for qualifying employment. A letter of support does not legally bind either party for future employment.

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16. What is Competitive Preference Priority Two?

The Department is statutorily required to give preference to applications that are submitted by an Indian tribe, Indian organization, or Indian IHE, and is particularly interested in funding applications led by these applicants. Therefore, the Department will award five additional points to applications where the lead applicant for a consortium is an Indian tribe, Indian organization, or an Indian IHE that is eligible to participate in the PD program. For example, an application submitted by a consortium led by an Indian IHE would be eligible to receive points under Competitive Preference Priority Two.

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17. What is Competitive Preference Priority Three?

The Department is statutorily required to give preference to applications that are submitted by an Indian tribe, Indian organization, or Indian IHE. The Department will award three additional points to applications from a consortium that includes, but is not lead by, an Indian tribe, Indian organization, or an Indian IHE. For example, an application submitted by an IHE (the lead applicant) in consortium with an Indian tribe would be eligible to receive points under Competitive Preference Priority Three.

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18. SELECTION CRITERIA QUESTIONS: How should an applicant conduct a job market analysis under the selection criterion “Need for Project”?

To receive the full 15 points under the selection criterion “Need for Project,” the applicant must conduct a job market analysis. The purpose of a job market analysis is to determine whether there is a need for qualified education personnel to fill vacancies in teacher and administrator positions within the geographic region to be served. To conduct the job market analysis, applicants may use readily available data sources at the national, State, and local level to determine current and future teacher and administrator shortages in the geographic region to be served. The analysis should document education personnel shortages in the region to be served, and the extent to which employment opportunities exist in the project's service area. Accessible resources for determining teacher shortages are available at the national level; however, applicants should rely on State and local sources for more accurate and timely data. For example, BIE and public schools annually publicize vacancy announcements at their schools, and an applicant may use this information to conduct the job market analysis. The grant administrator should be aware of the teacher/administrator opportunities in the region to be served. The applicant should design the project to prepare personnel in specific fields and service areas to address the shortages identified in the job market analysis.

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19. How can an applicant demonstrate that it has adequate procedures to ensure continuous improvement, as required under the selection criterion “Quality of Management Plan”?

Applications are evaluated on “the adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback and continuous improvement in the operation of the proposed project.” Throughout the life of the project, the applicant should have strategies to address performance issues that may arise, in order to ensure that the grantee remains on track to meet the performance goals. For example, if the grantee’s recruitment strategies are not yielding participants that can complete work-related (or service) payback, the grantee should have procedures in place to identify why the recruitment strategy is not working and how to fix it. Additionally, if the recruitment strategy results in fewer participants than initially anticipated, the grantee should have procedures in place to increase retainment, graduation, and employment, to ensure that the applicant can meet the project goals.

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20. PROGRAM COSTS: What costs are permitted under these grants?

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that the costs stipulated in their proposed budget are reasonable and necessary for addressing the proposed project effectively. The application must adequately describe the rationale for the proposed activities and their costs; an activity and its cost might be reasonable, allowable, and allocable in one project, but not necessarily in another. Applicants should review carefully the cost principles, particularly the guidance concerning “reasonable,” “allocable,” and “necessary” costs. The Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles are published in 2 CFR part 200.

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21. What kinds of costs may be covered under the PD program?

The PD program may include, as training costs, assistance to fully finance a student’s educational expenses, including: tuition, books, and required fees; health insurance required by the IHE; stipend; dependent allowance; technology costs; program required travel; and instructional supplies; or assistance to supplement other financial aid, including Federal funding other than loans, meeting a student’s educational expenses.

In addition to training costs, the PD program may include costs for 1) collaborating with prospective employers within the grantees’ local service area to create a pool of potentially available qualifying employment opportunities; and 2) in-service training activities such as providing mentorships linking experienced teachers at job placement sites with program participants; and 3) assisting participants in identifying and securing qualifying employment opportunities in their field of study following completion of the program. Regulatory requirements may be found in 34 CFR 263.4.

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22. What types of expenses are direct program costs, rather than training costs?

Direct program costs may include, but are not limited to costs for: collaborating with prospective employers within the grantee’s local service area to create a pool of potentially available qualifying employment opportunities; in-service training activities such as providing mentorships linking experienced teachers at job placement sites with program participants; and assisting participants in identifying and securing qualifying employment opportunities in their fields of study following completion of the program.

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23. What are the maximum stipend and dependent care allowances that we can include when developing the budget?

Project participants receiving training may receive stipends up to $1,800 per month for full-time students. Additionally, during an academic term, project participants may receive a $300 allowance per month per dependent.

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24. When can students receive stipends?

Full-time students are eligible to receive a stipend. Full-time student is defined in our regulations at 34 CFR 263.3 as a student who is a degree candidate for baccalaureate or graduate degree, carries a full course load, and is not employed more than 20 hours per week. Part-time students may participate in the professional development program, but only full-time students who meet the definition in 34 CFR 263.3 may receive the stipend.

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25. My Indirect Cost Rate Agreement is scheduled to expire shortly after I could expect to receive an award. What should I do?

Applicants that include indirect costs in their budget need to be aware of when their Indirect Cost Rate Agreement is due to expire. If the current rate expires prior to the start of the first grant year, ED will attach special conditions to the grant, under which the grantee has the option of not charging indirect costs, or of using a temporary ED rate until the grantee obtains a new rate from its cognizant agency. There is another option for grantees that have never had an indirect cost rate. For further information about indirect costs, see the section under Part 5 of the application entitled “Important Information Regarding Indirect Costs.”

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26. PAYBACK REQUIREMENTS: What are the grantee’s obligations relating to payback?

As detailed in 34 CFR 263.11, before providing funds or services to a participant, a grantee is required to conduct a payback meeting with the participant to explain the costs of training and payback responsibilities following training. The grantee must obtain a signed payback agreement from each participant, and submit this signed payback agreement to the Department within seven days through the Data Collection System (DCS). The grantee must also maintain a record of this meeting. Throughout the grant period, the grantee must report all participant training and payback information. Finally, grantees are required to help participants fund qualified employment opportunities, following completion of the program.

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27. Is the grantee responsible for tracking payback obligation of the participants?

No. The Office of Indian Education (OIE) is responsible for tracking payback obligations. OIE uses the DCS to track and verify service and cash payback fulfillment for the PD grant.

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28. Must grantees help participants find qualified employment?

Yes. Grantees must conduct activities to assist participants in identifying and securing qualifying employment opportunities following completion of the program. The initial job market analysis (in connection with the “need for project” selection criterion) should help identify employment opportunities for grantees. Additionally, securing a letter of support from an LEA or DOI BIE-funded school or other entity agreeing to consider program graduates for employment may help grantees find qualifying employment opportunities for participants.

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29. What payback requirements apply to participants?

Before receiving any funding under the program, participants must attend a payback meeting with the grantee to understand the costs of training and payback responsibilities following training. After a participant completes training, the participant must fulfill the payback obligation, either through work-related payback (also called service-related payback), cash repayment, or a combination of work-related payback and cash repayment.

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30. Does the payback requirement apply to all categories of financial aid, or just funding received through the PD program?

The payback obligation applies to all PD funding assistance provided directly to the participant, but it only applies to funds received through the PD program, not all categories of financial aid. This includes all disbursements or credits intended to cover the cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, miscellaneous personal expenses, room and board, stipends, dependent allowances, and travel in conjunction with training assignments.

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31. How is the payback obligation calculated?

The length of the work-related payback obligation is based upon the accumulated total months of training for which the participant received financial assistance, rather than the amount of funding received. To fulfill the work-related payback obligation, a participant’s work must be in his or her field of study under the PD program and benefit Indian people.

The total amount of time to be served through employment as work-related payback is equivalent to the time training was funded, calculated in months of training received. For example, if a participant receives funding for a semester that totals four months, the length of the work-related payback obligation is four months.

If a participant does not secure employment that satisfies the work-related payback agreement within twelve months of program exit or completion, the participant will automatically be referred for a cash payback. Alternatively, for participants that initiate, but cannot complete, a work-related payback, the payback converts to a cash payback that is prorated based upon the amount of work-related payback completed. Cash payback is equivalent to the amount of funds received and expended for training under the PD program. Applicable regulation may be found here: 34 CFR 263.8.

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32. Can a participant provide both work-related and cash payback?

Yes. While work-related payback may be used to cover the entire debt, if the participant is not employed in a qualified position at any time before the debt is paid off, the payback converts to a cash payback until the participant either finds qualified employment or fully repays the debt. The amount of the cash payback is prorated, based on any approved work-related services the participant has performed. A participant may move between cash and work-related payback multiple times, as necessary to meet payback requirements.

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33. If a participant is dismissed or drops out of a program, will he or she be required to fulfill the work-related payback or cash repayment requirement?

Yes. The regulations apply to participants who are dismissed or drop out of a program in the same manner that they apply to those participants who complete their training programs. The participant will be obligated to repay all associated training costs if he/she drops out or is dismissed from the program.

If the participant drops out prior to completing the training and does not graduate with a teaching degree or administrative certificate, the participant will not have the option to perform service-related payback, and will be required to enter a cash payback arrangement. If the participant is approved for a deferral however, and leaves mid-program, he or she may return to the program at a later date to complete the training and, thus, service payback.

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Last Modified: 05/05/2016