In 2005, the Higher Education Reconciliation Act set up two new grant programs designed to aid those students eligible to receive the Pell Grant-one was the Academic Competitiveness Grant (APG), and it was first available during the 2006-07 academic year in order to stimulate students into taking on more rigorous high school study course that they may also consider challenging college courses in turn.
The Academic Competitiveness Grant is open to applicants that are first-year undergraduates having graduated from high school post-January 1st, 2005. Second-year students that graduated from high school after January 1st, 2005 are also eligible. The ACG is an additional award on top of the Pell Grant. The program is likely to come under fairly sharp focus in political circles soon, as, despite the fact that an initial $790 million was ascribed to fund the program during the 2006-07 academic year and $4.5 billion set aside over the following five year period, the program is set to expire when the 2010-11 school year unless it is renewed. The program itself is under the management of the Academic Competitiveness Council and is chaired by the Secretary of Education
In respect to the terms of eligibility for the grant itself, the definition of a ‘rigorous program’ is determined by a state or local educational body and is subsequently recognized by the Secretary of State of Education
Due to the fact that a number of states, as yet, do not offer programs that are officially recognized as ‘academically rigorous’ under the terms of grant eligibility, and the government’s desire to include privately-schooled students, home-schooled students, and so forth, other programs of study are also recognized, such as State Scholar Initiatives, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
In order to be eligible for the Academic Competitiveness Grant, applicants should be full-time students, US citizens and should also meet all eligibility terms and conditions for the Federal Pell Grant. In order to formally submit their application, students should fill in and return a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which can be done online or via regular mail. Alternatively students may also apply for other federal grants at the same time and help make the most out of one application.