In Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act (HEA), there are programs that provide critical funding directly to institutions of higher education. Funding is granted to these institutions if they meet certain requirements involving their core expenses, number of students on campus receiving need-based aid, and their enrollment of minority students. Except for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), institutions that qualify for these programs are known as Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). These MSIs consist of Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHs); Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs); Native American-Serving, Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs); Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs); and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
In addition to these programs, Title III of the HEA include the HBCU Capital Financing (HBCU Cap Finance) program, the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement program (MSEIP), and the Endowment Challenge Grant program. The HBCU Capital Finance program is available to HBCUs to assist with the financing of capital projects or refinancing of proceeds that were used to finance the capital project. Funding for the HBCU Capital Finance program is distributed through a loan made to an HBCU.

The MSEIP program is available to minority institutions, institutions with an enrollment of no less than 50 percent of a single minority or combination of minority individuals, and nonprofit science-oriented organizations to improve science and engineering education and to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in scientific and technological careers. The funding under the MSEIP program is distributed through a competitive grant competition.

The Endowment Challenge Grant program was created to help eligible institutions build their endowments; however, this program has not been funded since fiscal year (FY) 1995. Lastly, HBCUs and PBIs are also eligible for funding in Title VII of the HEA in either the HBCU Masters Degree program or the PBI Masters Degree program. Both programs award funding to institutions directly named in the HEA for uses of funds similar to those in Titles III and V of the HEA.
Throughout past legislative initiatives to reauthorize the HEA, Congress has attempted to add additional allowable uses to give these institutions greater flexibility of the resources designed to allow them to best serve their students. 


In the HEA, funding exists for institutions that are under-resourced and enroll a certain percentage of a particular minority demographic. These institutions are able to receive additional funding from the federal government from Titles III and V of the HEA, known as “institutional aid.” In order for institutions to be eligible to receive this additional funding, they must be able to demonstrate that (1) their average educational and general expenditures per full-time equivalent undergraduate student are below those of their peer institutions that offer similar instruction and (2) no less than 50 percent of their students are receiving need-based aid or a substantial amount of their students are receiving the Pell grant compared to all institutions of higher education.

Eligible institutions are able to use the funding to provide access and a quality education to low-income and minority students through a number of uses of funds such as: (1) the purchase, rental, or lease of scientific or laboratory equipment for educational purposes; (2) construction, maintenance, renovation, and improvement in classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and other instructional facilities; and (3) the development and improvement of academic programs.


Funding for these programs began in the first HEA signed into law on November 8, 1965. This program, found in Title III of the bill, was called “Strengthening Developing Institutions” and allowed for institutions that were struggling, due to financial circumstances or other reasons, to have the opportunity to partner with other institutions and businesses through cooperative agreements.

This program also allowed the then-Commissioner of Education to offer teaching fellowships to highly qualified graduate students and junior faculty on other campuses to teach at these developing institutions.

As time progressed, Title III continued to evolve into a program that offered federal grant aid directly to institutions. This first began in the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 under a program called, “Emergency Assistance for Institutions of Higher Education.” HBCUs were the first set of institutions designated in the Higher Education Amendments of 1986, and the designation of Tribally Controlled Community Colleges followed in the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, evolving into the HBCUs, TCUs and the Minority-Serving Institutions we know today. 

What you can do

  • Check the Eligibility Matrix (EM) released by the Department of Education to see if your institution is on the list of those that are eligible to apply for funding under Title III or Title V of the HEA. If so, apply.
  • If you checked the EM and you do not see your institution, review your enrollment numbers and core expenses to determine if you could be considered an eligible institution. If so, submit an application for eligibility. 
  • If you are receiving funding from Title III or Title V of the HEA, contact your Senators or Representative and share how your institutions are benefitting from these funds and how more funding would allow you to better serve your students. 

NAICU Contact