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“Math, science, and foreign language skills are the new currency in our global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings

On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education began notifying an estimated 1.9 million students about their eligibility for one of two new grant programs. The first program will reward 1st- and 2nd-year college students who completed a rigorous curriculum while in high school. The second program will reward 3rd- and 4th-year college students who major in certain designated sciences, technology, math, and foreign languages.

“Math, science, and foreign language skills are the new currency in our global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “In developing these grants, we realized just how badly our country needs students to have these skills. As our world grows more competitive, America must run faster and break new ground, just as we always have. President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative is an administration-wide plan to strengthen our ability to compete.”

Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) will provide up to an additional $750 for 1st-year college students and up to an additional $1,300 for 2nd-year college students who completed a rigorous curriculum while in high school, are currently enrolled full-time, and maintain a 3.0 GPA in college. The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant program will provide up to an additional $4,000 to 3rd- and 4th-year Pell Grant-eligible college students who have maintained a 3.0 GPA, are enrolled full-time, and major in math, science, or “critical” foreign languages.

In determining eligibility for ACG, the department examined a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and will contact eligible students via email or regular mail. In addition to completing a rigorous high school curriculum, students must be under age 20 and U.S. citizens to be eligible. Students who have not yet filled out a FAFSA need only do so to see if they are eligible. Once a student is enrolled in the program, the department will notify the college to verify the student’s eligibility.

More information on both grant programs is available at


Correction: Credit Where Credit is Due


The article on the Education Trust report in the June 26 issue of Straight A’s “Education Trust Finds “Stunning Differences” in College Readiness Based on Teacher Quality,” implies that the research in Illinois was performed by the Education Trust. In actuality, work in Illinois with ACT, college readiness, and math, was conceptualized and performed by the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC), which later shared the results with the Education Trust. The editor apologizes for the confusion and directs interested readers to the original work on teacher quality and college readiness in Illinois by the IERC located at


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