Academic Competitiveness And National SMART Grant

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Lori Pace

In 2005, they conducted two student grant programs to meet the ever-growing need for improved math and science schooling. These grants are called the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART Grant). We speak about these grants as they are an excellent opportunity for scholarships for children from single-parent families.

These grants encourage students to go after college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, mathematics, technology, engineering, and critical foreign languages.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government, such as the SMART Grant and the Academic Competitiveness Grant. Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do if you want financial aid. The FAFSA is free. FAFSA allows you to potentially qualify for grants of up to $4000 in value.

There are ways in which you can obtain and submit a FAFSA form. These include the FAFSA website, myStudentAid App (available on iTunes and Google Play Store), printing and filling out the FAFSA form, and then mailing it to the address on the form.

It’s best to complete and submit the FAFSA form online or on the app. These options provide helpful tips to help you understand the questions, making them easier to fill out and apply.

It is crucial to know the deadlines for the application. You fill in the application the year before you need the financial aid. So make sure to look for the deadline on their website and submit your application before the closing date.


I’ve personally benefited from the SMART Grant, which was established in 2005 and provides up to $4000 in financial assistance. It’s a need-based program that can effectively double your federal grant funds. What’s great is that you can receive the SMART Grant alongside the Pell Grant, although it’s important to note that the combined total cannot exceed your total educational expenses for the period.

National SMART Grants are available to students for their third and fourth academic years of undergraduate studies. There is no fixed number of grants awarded to students because not every student qualifies for the total amount of $4000. There is, however, a set amount allocated by the government each year for the program.

The number of applicants and the number of awardees are not always the same. While you might meet all the requirements for the grant, if the money provided by the government runs out, you will not receive anything.

Applying For SMART Grant

Having navigated the SMART Grant application process myself, I can assure you that it’s not as complicated as it may seem. To start, you’ll need to complete and submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application, which you can do at your school’s finance faculty by their specific closing date. I know from experience that this initial step is crucial, and it’s best to apply early to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. Here are a couple of ways in which you can obtain and apply for FAFSA.

You can apply online, which is the most efficient and straightforward way to go, or you can complete your FAFSA by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID or 334-523-2691. By filling out a FAFSA form, you are applying for all federal grant programs available.

To be eligible for the SMART Grant, you need to meet the following requirements. You:

  • Can be a senior or a junior in college
  • Must be attending an accredited school
  • Should be pursuing a major in the following: Engineering, mathematics, technology, life sciences, physical sciences, and computer sciences. You can also be pursuing a major in a foreign language deemed critical to America’s national security.
  • Must be a full-time student.
  • Take a minimum of one course required to attain your major, and you must complete it in the year you receive the SMART Grant.
  • Must have and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 while you have the SMART Grant award.

As a single mother who has benefited from this grant, I can attest that it provides the essential financial support needed to cover the costs of college education. It’s a lifeline that ensures you don’t have to bear the financial burden alone, making it incredibly relevant for individuals facing the challenges of single parenthood.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

Let me share some insights into the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and its significance, as I have seen firsthand the impact it can have. Established under the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 alongside the SMART Grant, the ACG serves a crucial role in the federal student aid program. It’s designed to support students who demonstrate academic excellence but also need financial assistance to afford their college education.

This grant is available to eligible students in their first and second years of college. The program is both need- and merit-based. Students get $750 for their first year of undergraduate study and $1 300 for their second year of undergraduate study. The ACG can also combine with the Pell Grant, as with the SMART Grant, and the two together may not exceed the student’s cost of attendance.

Applying For ACG

Go to to find and fill out a FAFSA application form.

To be eligible for the ACG, you need to meet the following requirements. You must:

  • Qualify for the Pell Grant.
  • Be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen (permanent resident)
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and maintain it.
  • Have completed a rigorous secondary school program of studies.

Based on my own experience and information from the Department of Education, it’s worth noting that approximately 60 to 60 percent of first- and second-year federal Pell Grant recipients may qualify for additional funds. These additional funds can make a significant difference in your educational journey, which I’ve personally witnessed.

Rigorous Studies

Participation in a rigorous secondary school program may qualify a postsecondary student to receive an ACG if otherwise eligible.

All students may qualify for an ACG under the rigorous secondary school program of study options.

The following secondary school programs are rigorous:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of mathematics, including Algebra 1 and a higher-level classes such as Algebra 2, geometry, data analysis, and statistics
  • Three years of science, including one year each of at least two of the following courses: life sciences, chemistry, and physics
  • One year of a foreign language that has been deemed critical to America’s national security
  • Three years of social studies
Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!