Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants and Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) are federally funded grant programs that are need based as well as merit based. They are a contradiction in terms, as grants are usually awarded based on financial need. However, the SMART and ACG programs are unique: they motivate students with financial needs to pursue rigorous academic programs, study high-demand subjects like mathematics or engineering, and maintain a high GPA.
The ACG program is specifically for students in their first or second year of college. The SMART program is only for students in their third or fourth year of college. The ACG program does not have any subject study requirements. However, to receive a SMART grant, you must pursue a major in a specific field, such as mathematics, science, technology, engineering, or foreign languages relevant to international business and national security, like Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Russian.
Eligibility Requirements for the ACG and SMART Grants may vary slightly from one institution to the next. However, some eligibility requirements should be consistent. To qualify for these federal grants, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and you must be eligible for the need based Pell Grant. You must maintain above a 3.0 GPA and you must pursue and document progress in an eligible program. For example, at the University of Texas-Pan American, the ACG is awarded to Texas residents who completed the “Recommended” and “Distinguished” programs in high school.
Types of SMART Grants
- Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants: These national, federally funded grant programs for Pell Grant recipients and qualifiers seeks to meet the demand for qualified professionals in key subject areas.