The Academic Competitiveness Grant: ACG

Written by Michael Bennet

The Academic Competitiveness Grant, or ACG award, is a federal educational grant that is given on an annual basis for first and second year undergraduate students who may have excelled academically, either in high school, or during their first year of postsecondary study. It was recently created in 2006-07 to encourage students to take challenging coursework and to enroll in demanding majors.

Here are some quick facts about the Academic Competitiveness Grant:

  • It is a federal education grant that is provided by the Department of Education.
  • It is a grant, and not a student loan, and therefore does not have to be paid back.
  • The ACG award can provide 750 dollars during the first year of undergraduate study, and 1,300 dollars for the second year of undergraduate study.
  • To become eligible students must receive a federal Pell Grant award for that particular school year, and demonstrate that they have completed what is considered to be a “rigorous” body of coursework.
  • Applying is easy, and can be done simply by submitting a FAFSA by the appropriate deadlines.

Final Words on the ACG Award

There are two keys in becoming eligible for this grant program—first off, students must be scheduled to receive a Pell Grant for whatever year they plan on qualifying for the ACG. Students who are able to do this will have been able to satisfy the other eligibility requirements that are relevant to the ACG by virtue of receiving a Pell Grant.

The second main key to gaining ACG eligibility involves being able to demonstrate that a “rigorous” set of coursework was completed either during the student’s high school career, or during their first year of undergraduate study in college. The Department of Education has provided a fairly good explanation of what this entails on their federal student aid website, which can be accessed here.

The Academic Competitiveness Grant is a nice education grant award that I encourage Pell Grant eligible students to take advantage of if they have recently completed what the Department of Education defines as a “rigorous” set of coursework. Students who wish to apply simply need to remember to complete their FAFSA by the appropriate deadlines while keeping in mind that the ACG and the Pell Grant cannot total more than the full cost of attendance.