U.S. to Offer $75-Million in Grants for College Affordability and Attainment

May 15, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education is inviting colleges to apply for $75-million in grants through its inaugural "First in the World" innovation competition.

According to the department, the grants will finance the "development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies … that improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable." Of the total $20-million will be set aside for minority-serving institutions.

"The president is asking for the most innovative thinking that the field has to offer to spark some real creativity and innovation across higher education," the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, said in a written statement.

Innovation is a central tenet of President Obama’s college-affordability plan, outlined during a bus tour last summer. Mr. Obama is seeking $100-million more for the competition in the 2015 budget.

In a notice to be published on Friday in the Federal Register, the department says it seeks proposals that aim to raise enrollment and attainment for low-income and underrepresented students; minimize enrollment gaps between those students and their peers; improve transfer rates between community colleges and four-year institutions; reduce time to completion; and increase college affordability.

Applications will be available on Friday and are due by June 30. Grants will be awarded by September.