P.O. BOX 2120



July 21, 2006



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



U. S. Department of Education Grant Program: Academic Competitiveness Grants(ACG)and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent(SMART)Grants



The U. S. Department of Education has released a new grant program, titled the Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants, aimed at stimulating students to pursue education in math, science, and critical languages. The grants are expected to amount to $790 million this year and $4.5 billion over the next five years.


An Academic Competitiveness Grant will provide up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year of undergraduate study to full-time students who are U. S citizens, eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, and who have successfully completed a rigorous high school program, as determined by the state education agency and recognized by the Secretary of Education. Virginia options for eligibility for the 20062007 grants are located at or in Attachment A. Second year students must also have maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0. The new program will be available for the first time for the 2006-2007 school year for first year students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2006, and for second year students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2005. The ACG award is in addition to the student's Pell Grant award. Students in their third or fourth year will qualify for up to $4,000 per year. All grants will be administered by postsecondary institutions. Students will contact the postsecondary institution they will be attending this fall for further details.


For SMART Grants, third- and fourth-year Pell Grant-eligible students who meet the requirements, major in designated science, technology, math or critical foreign languages and maintain a 3.0 GPA will automatically receive up to an additional $4,000 during the 20062007 school year. A complete list of eligible majors is available at or call (800) 433-3243.


Students who have never applied for federal student aid should go online to or call 1-800-433-3243 for more information on eligibility and application information for both of these grant programs, as well as all other federal student aid programs. Students who have previously applied for federal student aid and who may be eligible for the ACG will receive notification from the Federal Student Aid office, either by e-mail or regular mail with application instructions. The Federal Student Aid office began sending these notifications on July 1. To learn more about the grants, visit


Questions about the American Competitiveness or SMART grants may be addressed to the Director of Career and Technical Education Services, Elizabeth M. Russell, via e-mail or telephone (804) 225-2847.