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Students can now apply for new grants

Students can now apply for two new grant programs that can make college more affordable and encourage them to pursue studies in math, science and foreign languages.

The new Academic Competitiveness (AC) grants and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grants are worth between $750 and $4000 to qualified Pell Grant-eligible students. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that approximately 500,000 students nationwide will qualify to receive these grants.

Math, science, and foreign languages are becoming increasingly essential skills for the growing workforce of the 21st Century. What better incentive for students to perform well in these rigorous courses than a potential reward in the form of financial aid that will help them get through college? The AC and SMART Grants encourage students to take the courses and complete the degrees to help them compete.

The AC grants provide college students who completed a rigorous course of study in high school with additional funds of up to $750 during their freshman year and up to $1300 during their sophomore year.

This is in addition to Pell Grant funds students are already receiving. College juniors and seniors who are eligible for SMART grants automatically will receive up to $4000 in additional aid next year.

To receive an AC Grant, rising college freshmen and sophomores must be Pell Grant-eligible and have completed a program of rigorous high school course work as defined by their state and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

To receive a SMART Grant, third- and fourth-year Pell Grant-eligible students must meet the requirements, major in designated science, technology, math or critical foreign languages and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Students can receive more eligibility and application information for both of these grant programs online at www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov or by calling 1- 800- 4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).