Since the passage of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, 11 Minority Serving Institution (MSI) designations have been created, the most recent being Institutions Serving Native American Pacific Islanders. Asian (AANAPISI). These MSIs reflect America’s changing demographic landscape by offering institutions a chance to compete for Title III, V, and VII grants that can serve their unique populations.
As the country continues to diversify, more institutions meet the requirements for two or more MSI designations. But whether or not these institutions are able to take full advantage of available grant opportunities is more complicated, putting some in the awkward position of having to choose which MSI grant to apply for or accept. ANAPISI scholars fear this will leave Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students behind.
According to 2022 MSI Federal Eligibility Data, 192 institutions in the United States are eligible to apply for ANAPISI funding. But of these 192, only 32 are currently receiving an AANAPISI scholarship.
“There is a growing number of institutions eligible for both AANAPISI and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). Our analysis, for example, indicates that nearly half of eligible AANAPISI are also eligible as HSI,” said said Dr. Robert Teranishi, professor of social sciences and comparative education and holder of the Morgan and Helen Chu Chair in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Title III, Part A does not allow a campus to concurrently receive another Part A grant,” Teranishi said, which may create a conflict for HSI and AANAPISI schools.
These restrictions were designed to increase the number of institutions that could receive grants, but Teranishi said it resulted in “cases where one institution declined one grant to accept another.”
The Ministry of Education has tried to avoid this conundrum. Two different laws, in 2007 and 2008, created two different application cycles for AANAPISI grants. In theory, institutions that cannot accept Part A (because they accepted an HSI grant) can apply for Part F of ANAPISI in the next cycle.
Dr. Mike Hoa Nguyen, an assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education, called this solution “a very flawed approach.”
“These are incredibly competitive grants. Schools win based on one point rather than another,” Nguyen said. “It’s a very tight race because the funding is so limited.”
If an institution does not have the resources to create competitive applications for both cycles, they may need to make a choice between the HSI and ANAPISI Part A grants.
“Sometimes you see schools being forced to choose between the two,” Nguyen said. “I can understand, if you’re going to get an ANAPISI grant which is around $0.5 million, versus an HSI, which could be $5-10 million, that’s a huge swing in funding. It is therefore a difficult decision for any university leader to make.
The difference in grant amounts reflects the total pool of funds from which each MSI designation must draw. In 2019, HSI grant credits totaled $124 million and ANAPISI funding totaled $8 million.
“All of these MSIs came into existence under different congresses, proposed by different people,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman, director of the Center for MSI at Rutgers University. “Different members of Congress have more or less influence, different groups have more or less influence, depending on what’s going on in the [executive] Office.”
Those differences, Gasman said, and a staggered creation timeline, influence lawmakers who control funding and reimbursement for the 11 different MSIs.
But another factor may be contributing to AANPISI’s overall low funding, according to AANAPISI researchers like Dr. Timothy Fong, professor of ethnic studies at California State University, Sacramento – the false belief in the “model minority.” , that AAPI students all come from wealthy families and need little or no academic support.
Fong is the Director and Principal Investigator of the “Full Circle Project”, a support program for Desi American students in the Asian Pacific Island of Sacramento State, established with an AANAPISI Part F grant.
Without a strong advocate, Fong said some institutions won’t look past the “model minority” myth and see how much their AAPI students could benefit from AANAPISI scholarships.
“There are huge funding gaps between MSIs, and AANAPISI is basically the least funded, our amount per capita is fractional compared to others. This is the big fight,” Fong said. “The way we argue is like choosing between your two children. It’s frustrating because we are limited. We would be able to do more with other opportunities.
Nguyen said that no ANAPISI Fellow wants to withdraw money or resources from another MSI designation.
“It’s not even about increasing the pie. This analogy always means they are fighting each other,” Nguyen said. “It’s about funding institutions based on their characteristics and intentions, how they serve their students.”
Dr. Andrés Castro Samayoa, assistant professor of instructional leadership and higher education at Boston College, said the dilemma of dual designation could be resolved by reauthorization of the HEA, last done in 2008 under President of the time, Barack Obama.
“In terms of the legislation that needs to follow, it’s about getting to the heart of the matter of funding systems, that’s what hasn’t been addressed. How to broaden the criteria for dual eligibility and remove the bureaucracy artificially put in place to complicate things? Samayoa asked. “What we need to do is really listen to the experience, engage with other colleagues who say there is a systemic problem with how the Department of Education supports MSIs.”
Liann Herder can be contacted at [email protected]