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Education Department Awards $20.1 Million in Grants to Strengthen 39 Higher Education Institutions

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The U.S. Department of Education today announced the awarding of more than $20.1 million to 39 colleges and universities under the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). SIP helps postsecondary schools expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen their academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability, as well as build a framework to help students complete college.

"Everyone deserves access to high-quality learning opportunities, from preschool to middle school and all the way through college" said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "In order to achieve President Obama's goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020, we must work to ensure that everyone has a chance to enroll and complete postsecondary education. These grants will boost the capacity and quality of programs offered by higher education institutions that serve low-income students as they work to increase completion rates and better prepare their students for success in college, careers and lifetime aspirations."

This year's grant competition offered institutions of higher education two distinct application options. One competition offered grantees the opportunity to address the priority of increasing postsecondary success and college completion, as well as focusing on improving productivity. The other competition addressed the priority of supporting programs, practices, or strategies for which there is strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness, building on the Department's support of evidence-based practices to inform educational policies.

SIP funds may be used for a wide variety of purposes, including planning, faculty development, and the development and improvement of academic programs. Administrative management and establishing an endowment fund are also supported. Institutions may use the grant for other projects as well, such as student service programs designed to improve academic success, including providing innovative or customized instruction courses designed to help retain students and see them through to program completion.

To be eligible for funds under this program, institutions must be serving a substantial number of students receiving need-based federal student aid and have low per-student expenditures. The program funds grants for a total of five years.

More information about the Strengthening Institutions Program can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/iduestitle3a/index.html

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