Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

The Academic Competitiveness Grant, also referred to as the ACG, is a grant available to first- and second-year college students who completed and did well in tough, challenging high school classes. Together, these classes have to meet the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of a “rigorous curriculum.” Because you have to meet high expectations in order to be eligible for this grant, it is called a merit-based grant. Students who are low on funds but high in the ability to work hard at school, do well in school, and stay motivated are good candidates for this rewarding grant.

Academic Competitiveness Grant Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for an ACG, you start with submitting a FAFSA. You must also be:

  • a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • a Pell Grant recipient
  • a full-time student enrolled in an associate’s degree program, bachelor’s degree program, or combined undergraduate/graduate program
  • in either your first or second academic year at a 2-year or 4-year degree-granting education institution

If you’re awarded an ACG, how much do you get?
First-year ACG recipients can receive up to $750 and second-year ACG recipients can receive up to $1300. The combination of your Pell Grant and your ACG can’t be more than your total costs to attend school. Your school’s financial circumstances and the number of your fellow students who also receive ACGs will play a role in determining how much money you get.

If you’re awarded an ACG, how do you get the money?
Academic Competitiveness Grants are paid out in a number of different ways. The U.S. Department of Education will send your ACG to your school, which may then apply it as a credit directly to your school account. Or, you may get a check from your financial aid office that you then deposit to your account. Or your school may arrange a combination of both transactions with you.

An ACG, like good grades, requires conscientiousness
The U.S. Department of Education has millions of dollars to give away in grants for college this year. To improve your chances for an Academic Competitiveness Grant, be thoughtful and thorough in your paperwork and submit your FAFSA as early in the year as you can. For a more information about the Academic Competitiveness Grants and other federal financial aid programs, download a copy of Funding Education Beyond High School, and see the FAFSA instructions for a definition of an eligible noncitizen.