Institutions that serve large proportions of low-income and minority students may receive funding under Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act. In fiscal year 2008, $667 million in grants were awarded to over 500 institutions. GAO was asked to determine (1) the characteristics of institutions eligible to receive grants under Titles III and V and characteristics of students served; (2) any challenges grantees face, and how they spent Title III and V funds to address these challenges; and (3) the extent to which the Department of Education (Education) monitors the financial and programmatic performance of grantees, and uses this information to target its technical assistance. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed data from a representative sample of grant applications and annual performance reports for the entire population of fiscal year 2006 grantees. GAO also interviewed officials from Education and 27 grantee institutions, and conducted financial site visits at other 7 grantee institutions.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should develop a comprehensive, risk-based approach to target grant monitoring and technical assistance based on the needs of grantees. In doing so, Education should take steps to ensure that all available tools, including its electronic monitoring system, risk-based criteria, site visits, and grantee annual performance reports, are fully integrated to better target its limited resources.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should follow up on each of the improper uses of grant funds that were identified in this report.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should provide program staff with the necessary training to fully carry out monitoring and technical assistance responsibilities.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should disseminate information to grantees about common implementation challenges and successful projects to leverage the investment that has been made across the programs.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should develop appropriate mechanisms to collect and use feedback from grantees.|