Posted Date: August 31, 2009

Author: William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: ACG and National SMART Grant Participation

This announcement serves as a reminder that an increased number of students may be eligible for the Academic Competiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART) in the 2009-2010 Award Year due to changes in regulation. In addition, we would like to take the opportunity to remind schools of the participation requirements for the ACG and National SMART Grant Programs.

Regulatory Changes That Expand Student Eligibility

The May 1, 2009 interim final rules (74 FR 20210), as published in the Federal Register, amended the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) and the Ensuring Continued Access Student Loans Act (ECASLA) with changes to the ACG and National SMART Grant Programs effective July 1, 2009. These changes, summarized below, may increase the number of students eligible for these programs.

  • 'Academic year' was changed to 'year' when defining a student’s eligibility for an ACG or a National SMART Grant. Both ACG and National SMART Grants are now awarded based on the student’s grade level, rather than the student’s academic year.

  • The definition of eligible program has been expanded to include one- or two-year undergraduate certificate programs at a degree-granting institution for ACG. Eligible programs for National SMART Grant now include degree programs that require the completion of five full years of undergraduate coursework at a degree-granting institution. This allows a student to receive a National SMART Grant for the third, fourth, and, in some cases, fifth year of study.

  • The requirement of full-time enrollment has been removed for both ACG and National SMART Grant, expanding eligibility to students enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program. As a reminder, the maximum ACG and National SMART Grants for part-time students must be proportionally reduced consistent with the requirements in the Federal Pell Grant Program.

  • The definition of eligible major has been expanded to include more programs for the National SMART Grant. Please see Dear Colleague Letter GEN-09-09 posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site as well as an August 17, 2009 Electronic Announcement for information on the new CIP codes.

  • Provisions 691.15(a)(1) and 668.33(c) that required recipients of the ACG and National SMART Grant be U.S. citizens have been removed. The amended ECASLA makes ACG and National SMART Grants available to eligible non-citizens.

Required Program Participation

The ACG Program regulations at 34 CFR 691.7(a) require a school that participates in the Pell Grant Program and offers one or more eligible programs for the purposes of the ACG Program, as defined in 34 CFR 691.2(d), participate in the ACG Program. In addition, the National SMART Grant Program regulations at 34 CFR 691.7(b) require a school that participates in the Pell Grant Program and that offers one or more eligible programs for the purposes of the National SMART Grant Program, as defined in 34 CFR 691.2(d), participate in the National SMART Grant Program.

Therefore, Pell eligible institutions having eligible students in eligible programs are required to award ACG and National SMART Grants.

We ask that you review your school’s records and processes regarding compliance with the ACG and National SMART Grant Program regulations, particularly in light of the expanded eligibility rules outlined above. Schools failing to participate when they have enrolled eligible students will be referred to the School Participation Team for review and possible administrative action.

Contact Information

If you have questions about this announcement, contact the COD School Relations Center at 800/474-7268. You may also e-mail CODSupport@acs-inc.com.

   

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