The idea behind the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is to give students an incentive for completing challenging classes during high school. The ACG doesn’t have to be repaid, and can be applied towards education fees for your first two years of undergraduate studies (up to $750 in year one, up to $1,300 in year two).
Every state has a different idea of what qualifies as “challenging classes”, so you’ll have to check with US Department of Education’s ACG website to see the list of “rigorous secondary school programs of study” for your particular state.
Assuming you’ve already taken the requisite “rigorous secondary school programs of study”, the next step is qualifying for the Pell Grant. You can’t be awarded the ACG without first qualifying for the Pell Grant. This means, among other things, you’ll have to demonstrate financial need.
Furthermore, you’ll have to meet the following additional requirements:
- U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Currently enrolled half-time or more in a qualifying degree program
- Enrolled as a first-year or second-year undergrad
- Hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher (second-year applicants only)
Receiving the ACG follows the same basic process as that of the Pell Grant. First, you have to complete and submit the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The government’s student aid department uses this form to quantify your financial need.
After your FAFSA form is processed, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which details your perceived financial need and how much you’ll be awarded through the Pell Grant program. The SAR will be coupled with a set of questions; your answers to these questions will determine your eligibility for the ACG.