Education Dept. Announces Grants to Boost College Completion at HBCUs, MSIs

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced a $5 million fund to improve college retention and completion rates for students of color.
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  • The grants will go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • Many of the institutions that will benefit from the grants are community colleges.
  • Institutions have 60 days to submit applications to the program and will be eligible for up to $1 million in grant funds.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Thursday announced $5 million in grants to boost retention and completion at higher education institutions serving people of color.

The new College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success was announced Thursday at the Education Department's (ED) Raise the B.A.R.: Bold + Action + Results in College Excellence & Equity Summit.

The funding will support grants for college completion efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

"For far too long, our higher education system has left our nation's most accessible, inclusive colleges without adequate resources to support student success, while many institutions chase rankings that reward privilege and selectivity over equity and upward mobility," Cardona said in a press release announcing the fund. "Reimagining higher education means rejecting a status quo in which so many students earn some college credits but no degree, leaving them with student debt they cannot afford and less access to good-paying jobs.

Institutions will have 60 days to submit applications to be considered for one of the grants, according to ED's release. The department is looking to invest in data-driven and evidence-based reforms, and wants institutions to find new ways to support existing students who are close to graduation and reengage students who withdrew from school temporarily during the pandemic.

Cardona in his remarks at Thursday's summit urged college leaders to focus on equity. Higher education, he said, shouldn't be looking to return to the way things were before the pandemic.

"If we go back to the system that was there in March 2020 and we're content with that … we're failing our kids," Cardona said during the summit. "If I'm not pushing to address the inequities and the gaps that were made worse by the pandemic, I shouldn't be secretary of education."

Cardona said education leaders at all levels should use this moment "to build back different and better for our students."

"There's no point in American history where you have an opportunity to do more change than today," Cardona said.