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Taken Steps to Improve Monitoring and Assistance, but Further Progress 
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Testimony before the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong 
Learning, and Competitiveness, Committee on Education and Labor, House 
of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT: 

Monday, June 4, 2007: 

Low-Income And Minority Serving Institutions: 

Education Has Taken Steps to Improve Monitoring and Assistance, but 
Further Progress Is Needed: 

Statement of George A. Scott, Director: 
Education, Workforce and Income Security Issues: 

GAO-07-926T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-926T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, Committee on 
Education and Labor, House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Institutions that may receive funding under Titles III and V include 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, 
Hispanic Serving Institutions, Alaska Native Serving Institutions, 
Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and other postsecondary 
institutions that serve low-income students. In fiscal year 2006, these 
programs provided $448 million in funding for over 500 grantees, nearly 
double fiscal year 1999 funding of $230 million. GAO examined these 
programs to determine (1) how institutions used their Title III and 
Title V grants and the benefits they received from using these grant 
funds, (2) what objectives and strategies the Department of Education 
(Education) has developed for Title III and Title V programs, and (3) 
to what extent Education monitors and provides assistance to these 
institutions. This testimony updates a September 2004 report on these 
programs (GAO-04-961). To update our work, GAO reviewed Education 
policy and planning documents, and program materials and grantee 
performance reports; interviewed Education officials; and analyzed 
Education data on grantee characteristics. 

What GAO Found: 

In their performance reports, the six grantees we reviewed most 
commonly reported using Title III and Title V grant funds to strengthen 
academic quality; improve support for students and student success; and 
improve institutional management and reported a wide range of benefits. 
For example, Sinte Gleska, a tribal college in South Dakota, used part 
of its Title III grant to fund the schoolís distance learning 
department, to provide students access to academic and research 
resources otherwise not available in its rural isolated location. Our 
review of grant files found that institutions experienced challenges, 
such as staffing problems, which sometimes resulted in implementation 
delays. For example, one grantee reported delays in implementing its 
management information system due to the turn over of experienced 
staff. As a result of these implementation challenges, grantees 
sometimes need additional time to complete planned activities. 

Although Education has established outcome based objectives and 
performance measures, it needs to take steps to align some strategies 
and objectives, and develop additional performance measures. Education 
has established an overall strategy to improve the academic, 
administrative, and fiscal stability of grantees, along with objectives 
and performance measures focused on student outcomes, such as 
graduation rates. In 2004, we reported that Educationís strategic 
planning efforts in were focused on program outputs that did not assess 
programmatic impacts, such as the percentage of goals that grantees met 
or exceeded, rather than outcomes. While Education has made progress in 
developing outcome based measures, we found insufficient links between 
its strategies for improving administrative and fiscal stability with 
its student outcome objective. To address challenges in measuring 
institutional progress in areas such as administrative and fiscal 
stability, Education is conducting a study of the financial health of 
low income and minority serving institutions supported by Title III and 
Title V. 

Education has made changes to better target monitoring and assistance 
in response to recommendations GAO made in 2004, however, additional 
study is needed to determine the effectiveness of these efforts. For 
example, Education uses risk indicators designed to better target 
grantees that may require site visits. While Education implemented an 
electronic monitoring system, it lacks the ability to systematically 
track grantee performance as designed. While Education provides 
technical assistance through various methods, its ability to target 
assistance remains limited in that its feedback mechanisms may not 
encourage open communication. Specifically, Education relies on grantee 
performance reports that are tied to funding decisions to solicit 
feedback. 

What GAO Recommends: 

Education made changes to improve monitoring and assistance in response 
to our 2004 recommendations, but further progress is needed. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-926T]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact George Scott at (202) 512-
7215 or scottg@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the federal government's 
programs to support low-income and minority serving institutions 
(MSIs). We previously reported on the Department of Education's efforts 
to monitor and assist these institutions.[Footnote 1] Beginning in 
1965, Congress created several programs under the Higher Education Act 
(HEA) to strengthen and support developing postsecondary institutions. 
In subsequent reauthorizations, Congress expanded the HEA to include 
programs that support institutions that provide low-income and minority 
students with access to higher education.[Footnote 2] These programs 
are generally referred to as Titles III and V of the HEA. The amount of 
federal funds available for these programs has nearly doubled from 
about $230 million in fiscal year 1999 to about $448 million in fiscal 
year 2007. Given the recent expansion of these programs and that HEA is 
slated for reauthorization this year, this hearing presents a timely 
opportunity to explore these grant programs. My testimony today focuses 
on (1) how institutions used their Title III and Title V grants and the 
benefits they received from using these grant funds, (2) what 
objectives and strategies the Department of Education (Education) has 
developed for Title III and Title V programs, and (3) to what extent 
Education monitors and provides assistance to Title III and Title V 
institutions. 

In summary, we found that grantees most commonly reported using Title 
III and Title V grant funds to strengthen academic quality; improve 
support for students and student success; and improve institutional 
management and reported a wide range of benefits. For example, Sinte 
Gleska, a tribal college in South Dakota, used part of its Title III 
grant to fund the school's distance learning department, and to provide 
students access to academic and research resources otherwise not 
available at its rural isolated location. 

However, our review of grant files found that institutions experienced 
challenges, such as staffing problems, which sometimes resulted in 
implementation delays. For example, one grantee reported delays in 
implementing its management information system due to the turnover of 
experienced staff. In addition, Education officials told us that common 
problems include delays in construction of facilities and hiring of 
staff. As a result of these implementation challenges, grantees 
sometimes need additional time to complete planned activities. 

Although Education has established outcome based objectives and 
performance measures, it needs to take additional steps to align some 
of its strategies and objectives, and develop additional performance 
measures. Education has established an overall strategy to improve the 
academic, administrative, and fiscal stability of HBCUs, HSIs, and 
Tribal Colleges, along with objectives and performance measures focused 
on maintaining or increasing student outcomes, such as graduation 
rates. When we reported on Education's strategic planning efforts in 
our 2004 report, its measures were focused on program outputs rather 
than outcomes, which did not assess programmatic impacts. While 
Education has made progress in developing more outcome based measures, 
we found insufficient links between its strategies for improving 
administrative and fiscal stability with its objectives to increase 
student outcomes. To address challenges in measuring institutional 
progress in areas such as administrative and fiscal stability, 
Education is conducting a study of the financial health of low income 
and minority serving institutions supported by Title III and Title V 
programs. 

Education has made changes to better target monitoring and assistance 
in response to recommendations we made in our 2004 report, however, 
additional study is needed to determine the effectiveness of these 
efforts. For example, Education uses risk indicators designed to better 
target at risk grantees that may require site visits, but a more 
extensive review is required to determine the quality of these visits. 
While Education implemented an electronic monitoring system, it lacks 
the ability to systematically track grantee performance as designed. 
Education has expanded its training specific to monitoring and 
assistance by offering courses such as an overview of grant monitoring. 
However, more information is needed to assess how well courses meet 
staff needs because Education's new training recordkeeping system does 
not contain information from prior systems. While Education provides 
technical assistance through various methods, its ability to target 
assistance remains limited in that its feedback mechanisms may not 
encourage open communication. 

To determine how institutions used Title III and Title V funds and the 
resulting benefits, we reviewed Education's 2006 Annual Performance 
Reports for six grantee institutions of Title III and Title V grant 
programs to determine uses and benefits of grant funds, and challenges 
associated with project implementation. Education selected these 
institutions based on our request for examples of schools with typical 
grant experience. The results from our review cannot be generalized to 
all grantees, and we did not independently verify the accuracy of the 
information that grantees reported. To determine the objectives, 
strategies, and performance measures Education has developed for Title 
III and Title V programs, we talked with Education officials and 
reviewed program and planning documents. To determine how Education 
monitors and provides assistance to the Title III and Title V grantees, 
we interviewed Education officials and reviewed documents, including 
program policies and guidance. We also reviewed applicable laws and 
regulations, and analyzed data regarding the characteristics of fiscal 
year 2006 grantee institutions as reported in the Integrated 
Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). To assess the completeness 
of the IPEDS data, we reviewed the National Center for Education 
Statistics' documentation on how the data were collected and performed 
electronic tests to identify missing or out-of-range values. On the 
basis of these reviews and tests, we found the data sufficiently 
reliable for our purposes. Our work was performed in May 2007 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

Background: 

Postsecondary institutions that serve large proportions of economically 
disadvantaged and minority students are eligible to receive grants from 
Education through Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act, as 
amended, to improve academic and program quality, expand educational 
opportunities, address institutional management issues, enhance 
institutional stability, and improve student services and outcomes. 
Institutions eligible for funding under Titles III and V include 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, 
Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian 
Institutions, and other undergraduate institutions of higher education 
that serve low-income students. While these institutions differ in 
terms of the racial and ethnic makeup of their students, they serve a 
disproportionate number of financially needy students and have limited 
financial resources, such as endowment funds, with which to serve them. 
(See app. I for characteristics of Title III and Title V institutions 
and their students.) Title III and Title V statutory provisions 
generally outline broad program goals for strengthening participating 
institutions, but provide grantees with flexibility in deciding which 
approaches will best meet their needs. An institution can use the 
grants to focus on one or more activities that will help it achieve the 
goals articulated in its comprehensive development plan--a plan that 
each applicant must submit with its grant application outlining its 
strategy for achieving growth and self-sufficiency. The statutory and 
regulatory eligibility criteria for all of the programs, with the 
exception of the HBCU program, contain requirements that institutions 
applying for grants serve a significant number of economically 
disadvantaged students. See table 1 for additional information about 
eligibility requirements. 

Table 1: Characteristics and Eligibility Criteria of Title III and 
Title V Grant Programs: 

Grant program: Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions; 
Type of grant[A]: Competitive; 
Duration[B]: Up to 5 years; 
Wait-out period[C]: 2 years; 
Eligibility criteria: An institution of higher education which (1) has 
an enrollment of needy students--at least 50 percent of students 
receive need-based federal financial assistance or its percentage of 
students receiving Pell Grants exceeds that of comparable institutions; 
(2) has average educational and general expenditures that are low 
compared with those of other institutions that offer similar 
instruction; (3) is accredited or making reasonable progress toward 
accreditation; and (4) is legally authorized by the state in which it 
is located to be a junior college or award bachelor's degrees. 

Grant program: Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges; 
Type of grant[A]: Competitive; 
Duration[B]: Up to 5 years; 
Wait-out period[C]: 2 years; 
Eligibility criteria: Must meet the same eligibility criteria as 
required for the Strengthening Institutions program. Additionally, must 
meet the statutory definition of "tribally controlled college or 
university.". 

Grant program: Title III, Part A Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian; 
Type of grant[A]: Competitive; 
Duration[B]: Up to 5 years; 
Wait-out period[C]: 2 years; 
Eligibility criteria: Must meet the same eligibility criteria as 
required for the Strengthening Institutions program. Additionally, must 
have an undergraduate enrollment that is at least 20 percent Alaska 
Native or at least 10 percent Native Hawaiian, as applicable. 

Grant program: Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and 
Universities; 
Type of grant[A]: Formulaic/ noncompetitive; 
Duration[B]: Up to 5 years; 
Wait-out period[C]: None; 
Eligibility criteria: Any college or university that was established 
prior to 1964, and whose principal mission was, and is, the education 
of African Americans, that is accredited or is making reasonable 
progress toward accreditation. 

Grant program: Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions; 
Type of grant[A]: Competitive; 
Duration[B]: Up to 5 years; 
Wait-out period[C]: 2 years; 
Eligibility criteria: Must meet the same eligibility criteria as 
required for the Strengthening Institutions program. Additionally, must 
have an undergraduate enrollment of full-time equivalent students that 
is at least 25 percent Hispanic, of which no less than 50 percent are 
low-income individuals. Institutions receiving grant funds through 
Title V may not simultaneously receive funds through Title III, Parts A 
or B. 

Source: The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended and the Department 
of Education. 

[A] Institutions that participate in the HBCU program receive grants 
based on a formula that considers, in part, the amount of funds 
appropriated, the number of Pell Grant recipients, the number of 
graduates, and the number of students that enroll in graduate school in 
degree programs in which African Americans are underrepresented within 
5 years after earning an undergraduate degree. Institutions that 
participate in all other programs receive grants based on a ranking of 
applications from a competitive peer review evaluation, and may apply 
for individual development or cooperative development grants. 
Institutions that receive cooperative grants partner and share 
resources with another postsecondary institution--which may or may not 
be eligible for Title III or Title V funding--to achieve common goals 
without costly duplication of effort. 

[B] For some programs, institutions may apply for 1-year planning, 1- 
year construction, and 1-year renovation grants. 

[C] The minimum number of years institutions receiving an individual 
development grant must wait before they are eligible to receive another 
grant under the same program: 

[End of table] 

Historically, one of the primary missions of Title III has been to 
support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which play a 
significant role in providing postsecondary opportunities for African 
American, low-income, and educationally disadvantaged students. These 
institutions receive funding, in part, to remedy past discriminatory 
action of the states and the federal government against black colleges 
and universities. For a number of years, all institutions that serve 
financially needy students--both minority serving and nonminority 
serving--competed for funding under the Strengthening Institutions 
Program, also under Title III. However, in 1998, the Higher Education 
Act was amended to create new grant programs specifically designated to 
provide financial support for Tribal Colleges, Alaska Native and Native 
Hawaiian Institutions, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.[Footnote 3] 
These programs have provided additional opportunities for Minority 
Serving Institutions to compete for federal grant funding. In 1999, the 
first year of funding for the expanded programs, 55 Hispanic Serving, 
Tribal, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Institutions were awarded 
grants, and as of fiscal year 2006, 197 such institutions had new or 
continuation grants. (See table 2). 

Table 2: Title III and Title V Funding by Program, Fiscal Years 1999 
and 2006: 

Type of grant: Title III, part A Strengthening Institutions; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: $60; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: $80; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 180; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 223. 

Type of grant: Title III, part A Tribal Colleges; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: 3; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: 24; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 8; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 27. 

Type of grant: Title III, part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: 3; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: 12; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 8; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 19. 

Type of grant: Title III, part B Historically Black Colleges and 
Universities; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: 136; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: 238; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 98; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 97. 

Type of grant: Title V, part A Hispanic Serving Institutions; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: 28; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: 95; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 39; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 151a. 

Type of grant: Total; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 1999: $229; 
Funding (in millions of dollars): 2006: $448; 
Number of institutions funded: 1999: 319; 
Number of institutions funded: 2006: 517. 

Source: Department of Education. 

[A] In 2006, 151 Hispanic Serving Institutions received 172 grants. 
Twenty-one of the institutions received two grants--an individual 
development grant and a cooperative development grant. 

[End of table] 

The grant programs are designed to increase the self-sufficiency and 
strengthen the capacity of eligible institutions. Congress has 
identified many areas in which institutions may use funds for improving 
their academic programs. Authorized uses include, but are not limited 
to, construction, maintenance, renovation or improvement of educational 
facilities; purchase or rental of certain kinds of equipment or 
services; support of faculty development; and purchase of library 
books, periodicals, and other educational materials. 

Grantees Reported a Range of Uses and Benefits for Title III and Title 
V Grants but Cited Some Implementation Challenges: 

In their grant performance reports, the six grantees we recently 
reviewed most commonly reported using Title III and Title V grant funds 
to strengthen academic quality; improve support for students and 
student success; and improve institutional management and reported a 
range of benefits. To a lesser extent, grantees also reported using 
grant funds to improve their fiscal stability. However, our review of 
grant files found that institutions experienced challenges, such as 
staffing problems, which sometimes resulted in implementation delays. 

* Efforts to Improve Academic Quality--Four of the six grantees we 
reviewed reported focusing at least one of their grant activities on 
improving academic quality. The goal of these efforts was to enhance 
faculty effectiveness in the classroom and to improve the learning 
environment for students. For example, Ilisagvik College, an Alaska 
Native Serving Institution, used part of its Title III, part A Alaska 
Native and Native Hawaiian grant to provide instruction and student 
support services to prepare students for college-level math and English 
courses. According to the institution, many of its students come to 
college unprepared for math and English, and grant funds have helped 
the school to increase completion rates in these courses by 14 
percentage points. 

* Efforts to Improve Support for Students and Student Success--Four of 
the six grantees we reviewed reported focusing at least one of their 
grant activities on improving support for students and student success. 
This area includes, among other things, tutoring, counseling, and 
student service programs designed to improve academic success. Sinte 
Gleska, a tribal college in South Dakota, used part of its Title III 
grant to fund the school's distance learning department. Sinte Gleska 
reported that Title III has helped the school develop and extend its 
programs, particularly in the area of course delivery through 
technology. In addition, the school is able to offer its students 
access to academic and research resources otherwise not available in 
its rural isolated location. 

* Efforts to Improve Institutional Management--Four of the six grantees 
we reviewed reported focusing at least one of their grant activities on 
improving institutional management. Examples in this area include 
improving the technological infrastructure, constructing and renovating 
facilities, and establishing or enhancing management systems, among 
others. For example, Chaminade University, a Native Hawaiian Serving 
Institution, used part of its Title III grant to enhance the school's 
academic and administrative information system. According to Chaminade 
University, the new system allows students to access class lists and 
register on-line, and readily access their student financial accounts. 
Additionally, the Title III grant has helped provide students with the 
tools to explore course options and develop financial responsibility. 

* Efforts to Improve Fiscal Stability at Grantee Institutions--Two of 
the six institutions we reviewed reported focusing at least one of 
their grant activities on improving its fiscal stability. Examples 
include activities such as establishing or enhancing a development 
office, establishing or improving an endowment fund, and increasing 
research dollars. Development officers at Concordia College, a 
historically black college in Alabama, reported using its Title III 
grant to raise the visibility of the college with potential donors. 

While grantees reported a range of uses and benefits, four of the six 
grantees also reported challenges in implementing their projects. For 
example, one grantee reported delays in implementing its management 
information system due to the turn-over of experienced staff. Another 
grantee reported project delays because needed software was not 
delivered as scheduled. In addition, Education officials told us that 
common problems for grantees include delays in constructing facilities 
and hiring. As a result of these implementation challenges, grantees 
sometimes need additional time to complete planned activities. For 
example, 45 percent of the 49 grantees in the Title V, developing 
Hispanic Serving Institutions program that ended their 5-year grant 
period in September 2006 had an available balance greater than $1,000, 
ranging from less than 1 percent (about $2,500) to 16 percent (about 
$513,000) of the total grant. According to Education regulations, 
grantees generally have the option of extending the grant for 1 year 
after the 5-year grant cycle has ended to obligate remaining funds. 

Education Has Developed New Objectives, Strategies, and Performance 
Measures that Focus on Program Outcomes, but Challenges Remain: 

Education has established a series of new objectives, strategies, and 
performance measures that are focused on key student outcomes for Title 
III and Title V programs. As part of Education's overall goal for 
higher education within its 2007-2012 Strategic Plan, Education 
established a supporting strategy to improve the academic, 
administrative, and fiscal stability of HBCUs, HSIs, and Tribal 
Colleges. Education has also established objectives in its annual 
program performance plans to maintain or increase student enrollment, 
persistence,[Footnote 4] and graduation rates at all Title III and 
Title V institutions, and has developed corresponding performance 
measures. When we reported on Education's strategic planning efforts in 
our 2004 report, it measured its progress in achieving objectives by 
measuring outputs, such as the percentage of institutional goals that 
grantees had related to academic quality that were met or exceeded. 
However, these measures did not assess the programmatic impact of its 
efforts. Education's new objectives and performance measures are 
designed to be more outcome focused. In addition, the targets for these 
new performance measures were established based on an assessment of 
Title III and Title V institutions' prior performance compared to 
performance at all institutions that participate in federal student 
financial assistance programs. Education officials told us that they 
made these changes, in part, to address concerns identified by the 
Office of Management and Budget that Education did not have specific 
long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully 
reflect the purpose of the program: 

Education needs to take additional steps to align some of its 
strategies and objectives, and develop additional performance measures. 
GAO has previously reported that performance plans may be improved if 
strategies are linked to specific performance goals and the plans 
describe how the strategies will contribute to the achievement of those 
goals.[Footnote 5] We found insufficient links between strategies and 
objectives in Education's strategic plans and annual program 
performance plans. Specifically, Education needs to better link its 
strategies for improving administrative and fiscal stability with its 
objectives to increase or maintain enrollment, persistence, and 
graduation rates because it is unclear how these strategies impact 
Education's chosen outcome measures. 

In fact, GAO and other federal agencies have previously found Education 
faces challenges in measuring institutional progress in areas such as 
administrative and fiscal stability. To address part of this problem, 
Education is conducting a study of the financial health of low-income 
and minority serving institutions supported by Title III and Title V 
funds to determine, among other things, the major factors influencing 
financial health and whether the data Education collects on 
institutions can be used to measure fiscal stability. Education 
officials expect the study to be completed in 2008. 

Education Has Made Some Changes Designed to Better Target Monitoring 
and Assistance, but Its Efforts Remain Limited: 

Education made changes designed to better target monitoring and 
assistance in response to recommendations we made in our 2004 report; 
however, additional work is needed to ensure the effectiveness of these 
efforts. Specifically, we recommended that the Secretary of Education 
take steps to ensure that monitoring and technical assistance plans are 
carried out and targeted to at-risk grantees and the needs of grantees 
guide the technical assistance offered. Education needed to take 
several actions to implement this recommendation, including completing 
its electronic monitoring tools and training programs to ensure that 
department staff are adequately prepared to monitor and assist grantees 
and using appropriately collected feedback from grantees to target 
assistance. 

Education has taken steps to better target at-risk grantees, but more 
information is needed to determine its effectiveness. In assessing 
risk, department staff are to use a variety of sources, including 
expenditure of grant funds, review of performance reports, and 
federally required audit reports. However, according to a 2007 report 
issued by Education's Office of Inspector General, program staff did 
not ensure grantees complied with federal audit reporting requirements. 
As a result, Education lacks assurance that grantees are appropriately 
managing federal funds, which increases the potential risk for waste, 
fraud, and abuse.[Footnote 6] In addition to reviewing grantee fiscal, 
performance, and compliance information, program staff are also 
required to consider a number of factors affecting the ability of 
grantees to manage their grants in the areas of project management and 
implementation, funds management, communication, and performance 
measurement. Education reports that identifying appropriate risk 
factors have been a continuous process and that these factors are still 
being refined. On the basis of results of the risk assessments, program 
staff are to follow up with grantees to determine whether they are in 
need of further monitoring and assistance. Follow-up can take many 
forms, ranging from telephone calls and e-mails to on-site compliance 
visits and technical assistance if issues cannot not be readily 
addressed. In targeting grantees at risk, Education officials told us 
that the department has recently changed its focus to improve the 
quality of monitoring while making the best use of limited resources. 
For example, Education officials said that risk criteria are being used 
to target those grantees most in need of sites visits rather than 
requiring staff to conduct a minimum number each year. Based on 
information Education provided, program staff conducted site visits at 
28 of the 517 institutions receiving Title III and Title V funding in 
fiscal year 2006, but a more extensive review is required to determine 
the nature and quality of them. 

Education's ability to effectively target monitoring and assistance to 
grantees may be hampered because of limitations in its electronic 
monitoring system, which are currently being addressed. Education 
implemented this system in December 2004 and all program staff were 
required to use the system as part of their daily monitoring 
activities. The system was designed to access funding information from 
existing systems, such as its automated payment system, as well as to 
access information from a departmental database that contains 
institutional performance reports. According to Education, further 
refinements to its electronic monitoring system to systematically track 
and monitor grantees. For example, the current system does not allow 
users to identify the risk by institution. Education also plans to 
automate and integrate the risk-based plan with their electronic 
monitoring system. Education anticipates the completion of system 
enhancements by the end of 2007. Because efforts are ongoing, Education 
has limited ability to systematically track grantee performance and 
fiscal information. 

Regarding training, Education reports that it has expanded course 
offerings to program staff specific to monitoring and assistance. 
Education officials told us that the department has only a few mandated 
courses, but noted that a number of training courses are offered, such 
as grants monitoring overview and budget review and analysis, to help 
program staff acquire needed skills for monitoring and assistance. 
However, because Education recently moved to a new training 
recordkeeping system that does not include information from prior 
systems, we were unable to determine the extent to which program staff 
participated in these offerings. We reported in 2004 that staff were 
unaware of the guidelines for monitoring grantees and more information 
is needed to determine the extent to which new courses are meeting the 
needs of program staff. 

While Education provides technical assistance through program 
conferences, workshops, and routine interaction between program 
officers and grantees, Education's ability to target assistance remains 
limited, in that its feedback mechanisms may not encourage open 
communication. Education officials told us that they primarily rely on 
grantee feedback transmitted in annual performance reports and 
communication between program officers and grantees. As we reported in 
2004, Education stated that it was considering ways to collect feedback 
separate from its reporting process for all its grant programs but no 
such mechanisms have been developed. 

Prior Recommendations and Agency Response: 

We previously recommended that the Secretary of Education take steps to 
ensure that monitoring and technical assistance plans are carried out 
and targeted to at-risk grantees and the needs of grantees guide the 
technical assistance offered. These steps should include completing its 
automated monitoring tools and training programs to ensure that 
department staff are adequately prepared to monitor and assist grantees 
and using appropriately collected feedback from grantees to target 
assistance. 

Education agreed with our recommendation, and has taken actions to 
target its monitoring and technical assistance to at-risk grantees. 
However, additional study is needed to determine the effectiveness of 
these efforts. 

Mr. Chairman, this completes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
respond to any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee may 
have at this time. 

GAO Contacts: 

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact me at 
(202) 512-7215. Individuals making key contributions to this testimony 
include Debra Prescott, Tranchau (Kris) Nguyen, Claudine Pauselli, 
Christopher Lyons, Carlo Salerno, Sheila McCoy, and Susan Bernstein. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Characteristics of Fiscal Year 2006 Title III and Title V 
Grantees: 

Average undergraduate enrollment; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 5,606; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 539; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 2,644; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 2,885; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 10,152. 

Gender. 

Male; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 42; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 34; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 41; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 39; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 41. 

Female; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 58; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 66; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 59; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 61; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 59. 

Race/Ethnicity. 

American Indian/Alaska Native; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 2; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 83; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 6; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: <1; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 1. 

Asian/Pacific Islander; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 6; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 2; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 47; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 1; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 9. 

Black; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 14; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: <1; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 2; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 81; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 10. 

Hispanic; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 8; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 1; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 3; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 3; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 43. 

White; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 65; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 13; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 36; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 13; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 28. 

Nonresident alien; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 2; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: <1; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/ Native Hawaiian Institutions: 3; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 1; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 3. 

Unknown; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 5; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 1; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 4; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 2; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 6. 

Control. 

Private, not-for-profit; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 22; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 36; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 14; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 47; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 20. 

Public; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 78; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 64; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 86; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 53; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 79. 

Type. 

< 4-year; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 67; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 57; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 50; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 13; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 55. 

4-year; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 33; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 43; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 50; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 87; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 45. 

Average percentage of students with federal grant[A]; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: Open admissions 
policy[B]: 45; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: Open admissions policy[B]: 67; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: Open 
admissions policy[B]: 27; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Open 
admissions policy[B]: 67; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: Open admissions 
policy[B]: 51. 

Open admissions policy[B]. 

Yes; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 70; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 93; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 64; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 39; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 62. 

No; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 29; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 7; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 29; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 60; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 36. 

Not applicable; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: <1; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: [Empty]; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/ Native Hawaiian Institutions: 7; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 2; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 1. 

On campus housing. 

Yes; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 47; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 29; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 57; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 87; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 34. 

No; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: 53; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: 71; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: 43; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 12; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: 66. 

Not applicable; 
Title III, Part A Strengthening Institutions: [Empty]; 
Title III, Part A Tribal Colleges: [Empty]; 
Title III, Part A Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions: [Empty]; 
Title III, Part B Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 2; 
Title V, Part A Hispanic Serving Institutions: [Empty]. 

Source: GAO analysis of data from the Department of Education, 
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. 

[A] Federal grants include Pell Grants and other federal grants awarded 
to individual students. 

[B] This is an admission policy whereby the institution will accept any 
student who applies. 

Notes: (1)Percentages do not always sum to 100 because responses 
labeled "not applicable" "not reported" or left intentionally blank 
have been excluded. 

(2) Data for average percentage of students with federal grant aid is 
from fiscal year 2004. 

[End of table] 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] GAO, Low-Income and Minority Serving Institutions: Department of 
Education Could Improve Its Monitoring and Assistance, GAO-04-961 
(Washington, D.C. : Sept. 21, 2004). 

[2] These programs include Title III, Part A Strengthening 
Institutions; Title III Part A American Indian Tribally Controlled 
Colleges and Universities; Title III, Part A Alaska Native and Native 
Hawaiian Serving Institutions; Title III, Part B Strengthening 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Title V, Part A 
Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions. Throughout the report when we 
refer to Title III and Title V programs or grants, we are referring to 
these specific programs. Our review did not include Title III, Part B 
Historically Black Professional or Graduate Institutions; Part D HBCU 
Capital Financing; or Part E Minority Science and Engineering 
Improvement Program. 

[3] Education has proposed discontinuing funding for Title III, part A 
Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions in its fiscal year 2008 
budget proposal. According to Education, the types of activities 
supported by this program may be carried out under the Title III 
Strengthening Institutions program. Institutions whose projects would 
be discontinued would be eligible to seek funds under the Strengthening 
Institutions program. 

[4] The percentage of full-time undergraduate students who were in 
their first year of postsecondary enrollment in the previous year and 
are enrolled in the current year at the same institution. 

[5] GAO, Agency Performance Plans: Examples of Practices That Can 
Improve Usefulness to Decisionmakers. GGD/AIMD-99-69 (Feb. 26, 1999.) 
Washington, D.C. 

[6] Office of Inspector General, Department of Education, Audit of the 
Discretionary Grant Award Process in the Office of Postsecondary 
Education (OPE), CAN: ED-OIG/A19G0001 (Apr 16, 2007).

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