UNCG Sponsored Programs

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FAQs in Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and Title III status at UNCG

The following document is intended for use as an internal document only. Do not attach this document to
grant application packages. See below for the correct attachments to application packages.

Who may I contact with questions?

For questions about MSI status in general, or grant eligibility, or descriptive text/data in grant
applications, please contact any of the following:

How can I get a letter to certify UNCG is eligible for an MSI funding opportunity?

Many MSI funding programs require an official university letter that verifies the institution’s
eligibility to apply for the specific program. Once you have spoken with Aubrey or Julie to verify
UNCG’s eligibility (see previous question), we can then help generate an eligibility letter and get
the appropriate signatures. These letters must be signed by an individual who is authorized to
sign agreements on behalf of UNCG, such as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement
or the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs.

If the funding opportunity requests a copy of the letter verifying UNCG’s Title III Part A status,
that may be found here: Title III Eligibility Letter. This letter and other common documents can also be found at: https://sponsoredprograms.uncg.edu/templates-and-boilerplates/.

What is MSI status?

MSI is a descriptive term that allows universities to concisely indicate that they enroll a
significant percentage of students from minority groups. One definition of MSI is based on
undergraduate enrollment of at least 25% of any minority group. The 25% threshold is
consistent with the definition used in a report on MSIs that was issued by the Institute of
Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education (DOED):

“Black-serving non-HBCUs: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs but in which Black
students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while
students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of
the total undergraduate enrollment” (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008156.pdf)

MSI is not defined in US statutes or regulations. See below for details.

What is Title III status?

Institutions meeting specific criteria, as set forth in Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965
(as amended), are designated by DOED as having Title III status. Title III is broken down into
Parts A through G (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/chapter-28/subchapter-III).
Most relevant to UNCG, Part A of Title III applies to universities with a substantial percentage of
students receiving need-based federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants.

Does UNCG have MSI status? Title III status?

Yes, consistent with the above definition, UNCG is a Minority Serving Institution for African
American Students, with 35.6% (n=5,582) of the undergraduate enrollment for Fall 2020.
However, funding agencies frequently define MSI differently, because the term MSI is
descriptive and is not codified in US statutes. This means the definition of MSI can vary by
funding agency, by competition, and from year to year. See below for additional details.

Yes, UNCG is a Title III Part A institution, based on the significant enrollment of students that are
eligible for need-based federal grants. (e.g., Pell Grant eligible is 51.4% (n=8,069), as of Fall

What are some ways to describe MSI status and Title III status in publications, grants, and the media?

The use of MSI will depend on the context. In general, you may wish to describe MSI status based on
the following example:

“UNCG is a Minority Serving Institution, with a student body in Fall 2020 consisting of 15,696
undergraduates, among which approximately 35.6% (n=5,582) identify as African American1 and
13.1% (n=2,057) identify as Hispanic or Latinx. UNCG also serves a significant proportion of
students with financial need, with approximately 51.4% (n=8,069) of UNCG students eligible for
need-based Pell Grants, resulting in the U.S. Department of Education officially recognizing
UNCG as a Title III Part A institution.”

You may also wish to highlight that UNCG goes beyond enrolling a diverse student body. UNCG also
excels in retention and graduation of all students, with the following examples:

Beyond these significant enrollment numbers, UNCG is one of just 13 public four-year
institutions nationwide to be recognized in a 2016 report released by the U.S. Department of
Education for “excelling in access and success” in enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients.

UNCG was recognized as a top-performing institution for its success in eliminating the BlackWhite Completion Gap, by The Education Trust (2017) and Deloitte Educational Services
(2018). In fact, at UNCG there is no completion gap, with the six-year graduation rate for Black
students 4% higher than that of White students. When compared with its top 15 peer
institutions, UNCG’s Black student six-year graduation rates were 13.8 percentage points higher.

UNCG now ranks No. 1 statewide and No. 23 nationally for social mobility, a new U.S. News &
World Report category highlighting institutions that are most successful in enrolling and
graduating students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

1(note the 35.6% African American undergraduate enrollment in the preceding paragraph includes any
student (including multiracial) who checks the African American box on forms. Some sources may state
the number is 29.6%, by counting only the students that check only the African American box.)

In addition, in preparing grant applications you may wish to highlight UNCG’s research excellence with
regard to community engagement of diverse groups, and programs for students, with the following

UNCG serves Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Nation, through a variety of programs and
research projects aimed at diverse groups. Significant externally funded service and research
efforts for diverse and underserved populations span the university. These include: innovative
educational enrichment programs for K-12 schools; research and programs to address “food
deserts”; initiatives for education opportunities among individuals experiencing homelessness;
programs on safe and affordable housing; National Institutes for Child Health and Development
funded research on early child development; state contracts for childcare certifications, a center
focused on refugees and immigrants; and improved recovery of wounded warriors from
traumatic brain injuries.

With respect to students, we have garnered a number of research awards to support our efforts
including: 1) a $1 million grant from NSF to enroll academically talented and financially
challenged minority, female, and first-generation students seeking degrees in STEM, as part of
the Science, Technology, and Math Preparation Scholarship (STAMPS) program; 2) in March
2017, UNCG was selected for the Gates Foundation’s Frontier Set, joining 31 institutions across
the country working to close achievement gaps in higher education; 3) in May 2017, we received
a $1.4 million NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in
Academic Research (MARC U-STAR) grant to support underrepresented minority and
disadvantaged students pursuing biomedical and behavioral health degrees; 4) in September
2017, UNCG was selected to host a $1.2 million McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement
Program to prepare first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented undergraduate
students for doctoral studies, and: 5) UNCG has been awarded an NIH T32 program with $858K
in funding, to support diverse pre-doctoral chemistry students who are studying innovative
technologies for natural products and alternative medicines research.

UNCG is classified by The Carnegie Foundation as a Research University with “Higher Research
Activity-R2” and a “Community-Engaged Institution”, one of only 59 such institutions in the
country to have both.

Furthermore, UNCG is one of only 18 doctoral institutions in the country that are all three:
Minority Serving Institution, Carnegie Foundation Community-Engaged Institution, and Carnegie
Foundation Research University with “Higher Research Activity-R2”

You may wish to highlight UNCG’s commitment to provide research training opportunities to diverse
groups of students across all academic disciplines with this sample wording:

The philosophical underpinnings of this very proposal speak to this commitment to inclusion.
Students that come from traditionally underserved backgrounds must have access to the highest
quality education, including exposure to advantages that instruction in the humanities and
participation in undergraduate research confer, in order to maximize the talent of all individuals that pursue higher education opportunities and to strengthen the pool of prepared individuals
in all disciplinary backgrounds for future success.

You may wish to highlight UNCG’s overall commitment to inclusive excellence:

UNCG defines diversity as the rich array of human characteristics that combine to shape what
makes each of unique. These characteristics include not only the familiar categories of race,
ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, but also: age, cognitive style, disability, economic,
educational and geographic background, languages spoken, marital status, political affiliation,
religious beliefs and more. We value diversity, recognizing that we are all shaped by these
numerous and varied factors and that each student, faculty, and staff are uniquely qualified to
contribute to the collective goals of the university.

UNCG is committed to moving beyond the demographics of diversity to creating an inclusive
environment that brings us together, harnessing these diverse characteristics to advance the
university’s mission and vision. In September 2019, UNCG was one of four UNC System
institutions to receive the INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED)
Award, which recognizes colleges and universities for their outstanding commitment to diversity
and inclusion. This year marks the third straight year that UNCG has received this award

Recent funding to support a culture of inclusive excellence among UNCG’s faculty include an NSF
ADVANCE grant aimed at enhancing the systemic factors that support equity and inclusion and
to mitigate the systemic factors that create inequities in the academic profession and
workplace. In addition, UNCG was awarded a 2020-23 Sponsored Programs Administration
Development (SPAD) grant from NIH, that seeks to increase the productivity of sponsored
programs activities to enhance biomedical research and/or research training. The SPAD award
allows us to provide targeted support to faculty from groups identified as nationally
underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.

For proposals that seek to work specifically with Hispanic populations, you may want to note:

UNCG maintains an Associate Membership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and
Universities https://www.hacu.net/hacu/What_is_HACU.asp based on our enrollment of over
10% Hispanic students. The only other school in the UNC system with this membership is UNC

Does MSI status and Title III Part A designation allow UNCG faculty to apply for additional grant
funding opportunities?

Yes, MSI status will open up additional avenues to fund academic programs, research and
scholarly activities; however, read the guidelines of the funding opportunity very carefully.

For example, some funding mechanisms from the Dept. of Education (DOED) allow all Title III
eligible institutions to apply, while other mechanisms from DOED might exclude institutions with
Part A of Title III from eligibility. Similarly, the criteria for NIH and the Dept. of Defense (DOD)
varies by funding mechanism. In general, most “Minority Institution” funding from NASA and
NSF will exclude UNCG’s MSI status, instead using a very specific definition (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-minorityinst-list.html). In some examples,
funding announcements have not been very clear, and we have written to the program officer
(typically a couple of months in advance of the application deadline), to confirm eligibility. The
Office of Sponsored Programs continues to make a concerted effort to identify appropriate
funding opportunities and is available to evaluate eligibility for specific funding announcements.

What are some specific examples of funding opportunities that UNCG has been or will likely be eligible for based on MSI and/or Title III Part A status?

  1. Dept of Defense: Research and Education Program for Historically Black Colleges and
    Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCU/MI)
    1. FY 2020 (for basic research): https://www.arl.army.mil/wpcontent/uploads/2019/11/arl-baa-FY-2020-DoD-HBCUMI-Research-FOA-as-of-March27_2019.pdf
    2. FY 2021 (for equipment): expected BAA release early May with expected due date July
      2020, watch for announcement at https://www.arl.army.mil/business/broad-agencyannouncements/
  2. National Institutes of Health NHLBI: T32 Training Program for Institutions That Promote Diversity
    1. Intended to support training of predoctoral and health professional students and
      individuals in postdoctoral training institutions with an institutional mission focused on
      serving health disparity populations not well represented in scientific research, or
      institutions that have been identified by federal legislation as having an institutional
      mission focused on these populations, with the potential to develop meritorious
      training programs in cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, and sleep disorders.
    2. https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HL-19-023.html
  3. National Institutes of Health: Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement
    Award (SC1, SC2, and SC3)
    1. The SCORE Program is a developmental program designed to increase the research
      competitiveness of faculty and research base of institutions with a historical mission or
      demonstrated commitment to training students from backgrounds underrepresented in
      biomedical research. See Aubrey Turner for assistance with applying to NIH SCORE.
      1. SC1: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-20-039.html
      2. SC2: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-20-040.html
      3. SC3: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-20-041.html
  4. Dept. of Education: Title III Part A, “Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP)”
    1. The program helps eligible IHEs to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to
      serve low-income students.
    2. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/iduestitle3a/index.html
  5. Dept. of Education: Curriculum Development Stipends
    1. Through funding from the U.S. Dept. of Ed., six Title VI National Resource Centers award
      stipends to faculty at community colleges and minority-serving institutions to develop
      and incorporate greater content about Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia into the
      curricula of the institutions at which they teach.
    2. https://slaviccenter.osu.edu/news/call-applications-course-development-stipendsrussia-eastern-europe-and-eurasia-0
  6. Dept of Education: Pathways to the Education Sciences Research Training Program
    1. Pathways Training Program grants are awarded to minority-serving institutions (MSIs)
      and their partners that create education research training programs to prepare fellows
      for doctoral study. While the formats of Pathways programs vary, the core features are:
      1. a required research apprenticeship, in which participants gain hands-on
        research experience under the supervision of faculty mentors.
      2. an education problem or issue chosen as the research theme of the training
      3. the development of methodological knowledge and skills; and
      4. career development.
    2. Training participants (known as Pathways fellows) may include upper-level
      undergraduates (juniors and seniors), post-baccalaureate students (within 5 years of
      receiving a bachelor’s degree), or students enrolled in master’s degree programs.
      Fellows who complete their Pathways Training Program should be prepared to enter a
      doctoral program in which they can pursue a future career in education research.
    3. https://ies.ed.gov/ncer/projects/program.asp?ProgID=95

In addition, there are funding mechanisms that do not explicitly require MSI status, but applications would likely be strengthened by mentioning MSI and/or Title III status. For example, the NIH R15 program requires a “profile of the students of the applicant institution” as a section within the Facilities & Other Resources attachment to the proposal, and MSI status can be a nice component of that section.

Will UNCG continue to maintain MSI status?

Given UNCG’s commitment to recruiting, retaining, and graduating a diverse student body, and
a university commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, it is anticipated that UNCG will
continue to maintain MSI status.

Does a federal agency provide a list of MSIs? Title III schools?

The term “MSI” is not defined in U.S. General Statutes, and there is no federal list of MSIs.
DOED does not officially designate any institutions of higher education as an MSI. On the other
hand, as an unofficial descriptive term, MSI is used in reports/criteria issued by the DOED (e.g.,
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008156.pdf), and a variety of other funding agencies.

A similar term, Minority Institutions (MI), is often confused with MSI. There is a very specific
legal definition for MI (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCODE-2011-title20/html/USCODE-2011-title20-chap28-subchapIII-partE-subpart3-sec1067k.htm). DOED
does maintain a list of Minority Institutions (MI), Historically Black Colleges or Universities
(HBCU), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)

For Title III status, the DOED maintains a list (eligibility matrix) of universities that have Title III/V
status: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/idues/eligibility.html#el-inst