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First in the World Grants available for colleges

Grants may make college more affordable.
Grants may make college more affordable.

U.S. Department of Education announced this week the availability of $75 million in the First in the World (FITW) program. The funding is in the form of grants. The grants will fund the development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies at colleges and universities that improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable for students and families.

College costs are quickly rising, potentially making college less affordable for many students. According to the College Board, average tuition and fees at public four-year institutions in 2013-14 are more than three times higher than they were in 1983-84, after adjusting for inflation.

The FITW competition aims to increase postsecondary access, affordability and completion for underrepresented, underprepared or low-income students at institutions across the country. During this first phase of grant distribution, colleges and universities are invited to submit proposals addressing key priorities around boosting enrollment and attainment for students who would otherwise have difficulty with college issues from underrepresented, underprepared or low-income groups.

Goals are to address minimizing gaps between these students and their peers; improving transfer rates between community college and four-year institutions, increasing enrollment and completion rates, and increasing student enrollment in STEM majors.
Applications will be made available on May 16 and applications are due by June 30. All grants will be awarded by September. The Department will post further information, including information about webinars and other technical assistance, on the FIPSE Web page.

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