Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the launch of the College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success, with $5 million in available funding. The fund’s goal is to help historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) increase student retention and completion.

All institutions that are eligible for Title III and Title V funding can apply for the College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success. These are generally institutions that serve large shares of students who are minorities or come from low-income backgrounds. The U.S. Department of Education is particularly urging community colleges that have suffered enrollment declines to apply. Community colleges experienced the sharpest enrollment declines of any sector in spring 2020, 2021, and 2022, including a 7.8% decline this spring.

Interested institutions must submit an application within 60 days that details what they are already doing to increase retention and completion, how they would use the funding, and how they would measure success. Selected institutions can receive up to $1 million.

The Department also announced that its Project Success initiative, which helps HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs build capacity to provide student supports, will continue for another three years instead of ending in September. In addition, the Department has requested that Congress allocate $110 million in the fiscal year 2023 budget for grants supporting student retention and completion.

These announcements follow repeated efforts by the Biden Administration to offer resources to support student success:

  • A $62 billion fund to support student retention and completion was included in the American Families Plan and Build Back Better Act, neither of which made it through Congress.
  • Biden has also requested $110 million from Congress in the fiscal year 2023 budget for a retention and completion grant program.

The College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success allocates funding on a much smaller scale than the original vision, but it reflects the administration and the Department’s continued emphasis on equity and student success.