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Education Department Awards $3.4 Million in McNair Grants to Help Disadvantaged Undergrads Obtain Doctoral Degrees

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The U.S. Department of Education today announced 15 grants totaling more than $3.4 million to institutions in a dozen states to help disadvantaged undergraduate students obtain doctoral degrees.

Under the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, higher education institutions compete for the grants which prepare eligible students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.

"These funds will lend a helping hand to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong academic potential," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "They will help institutions support those students, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of people from underrepresented segments of our society who have doctorates."

Institutions work closely with participants as they complete their undergraduate requirements. The institutions encourage students to enroll in graduate programs and then track students' progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees.

Projects must offer opportunities for research and other scholarly activities at the recipient institution or graduate center, such as: summer internships, seminars, tutoring, academic counseling, and activities to help students enroll in graduate programs.

The projects also may provide services to improve financial and economic literacy, mentoring, and exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to disadvantaged students.

McNair is one of seven programs collectively known as the Federal TRIO Programs. TRIO is the Education Department's oldest college preparation and student support effort. The Federal TRIO Programs have a long history of providing support to low-income students and students whose parents never completed college.

The program is named for Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D., the NASA astronaut who died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

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