Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Need-Based Aid Budgeted by Congress for Low-Income Students Are Not Awarded by the Department of Education

An internal audit at the U.S. Department of Education finds that the federal government has not done enough to inform the public about grants that are available for low-income students.

In the 2006-07 academic year, Congress budgeted $790 million for the Academic Competitiveness Grants program, with a similar amount allocated for subsequent years through 2010. The need-based grants are available to low-income students who take a rigorous high school curriculum.

But the Education Department audit found that only $448 million in grants were given out that year. In the 2007-08 academic year, $468 million was awarded in grants through the first 10 months of the program.

The inspector general of the Education Department said in the audit that many high schools were unaware that their students were eligible for the grants and that the department often failed to provide enough information to the proper authorities at these high schools.