Governor's Office of Minority Empowerment

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 06, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker, 502-564-2611  

Governor Ernie Fletcher today urged qualified Pell Grant-eligible students to apply for new grants worth between $750 and $4,000 that will help make college more affordable.  The new Academic Competitiveness (AC) grants and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grants provide $790 million in funding this fall and $4.5 billion over the next five years. 

“In an era of rising cost to attend college, this is a wonderful opportunity to reward college students who excelled, while helping to make higher education more affordable,” said Governor Fletcher.  “These grants will inspire academic excellence and higher education accessibility while making careers in science and math more attractive and affordable. I urge every student to look at the Web site and check their availability as soon as possible.”

These grants provide further incentive for students to take more challenging courses in high school and to pursue college majors in high demand areas, such as science, math, technology, engineering and critical foreign languages.  The Department of Education estimates that approximately 500,000 students will qualify to receive these grants. 

“Math, science, and critical foreign language skills are the new currency in our global economy.  To ensure our nation’s economic competitiveness, we must first expect high academic performance from our students,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. “The new Academic Competitiveness Grants and SMART Grants encourage students to take the courses and complete the degrees to help them compete.  As of July 1, students can visit to view eligibility information and apply.”

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 $1,300 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 $4,000 in additional aid next year. 

To receive an Academic Competitiveness 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 or by calling 1- 800- 4FEDAID (or 1-800-433-3243).  For a fact sheet on the Academic Competitiveness and SMART Grants, click here.