Federal Funding Could Help Universities Attract More AANAPI Students



In 2008, the federal government launched a program to allow some universities to identify themselves as Asian-American, Native American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI). However, according to Ronald Roach of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, of the 153 schools around the country that qualify for the designation, only 78 have applied for it and received it so far. And of those winning the designation, only 21 actually received federal grants that are supposed to help recruit and retain Asian-American and Pacific Islander students.

A recent study by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, released to coincide with the group's 2013 Higher Education Summit, found that federally-designated AANAPISI schools attracted a higher percentage of AAPI students than an average university, being responsible for nearly 27% of enrollment and 22.1% of bachelor's degrees granted to AAPI students nationwide. When all schools eligible for the federal designation are taken into account, the percentages go up to 41.2 and 25.3, respectively.

AANAPISI funding has only reached 14 percent of the institutions eligible to be AANAPISIs and 27 percent of the designated institutions. Current budget appropriations for the program do not meet the need or demand, which would require an additional $22.8 million per year over the current level of funding to provide grants to all of the designated AANAPISIs. To fund all eligible AANAPISIs would require an additional $52.8 million per year over the current level of funding.

By 2015, another 12 institutions are projected to meet the criteria for being an AANAPISI based on projected enrollment growth among AAPI undergraduate students; however, the projected increase will require an additional $4.8 million in funding needed over the current shortfall of $52.8 million.

The study found that schools that have either earned or are eligible to earn the AANAPISI designation are performing well in their mission to serve the needs for Asian American and Pacific Islander students – typically an underserved minority in higher education. However, federal funding that is supposed to help schools reach the goals of increasing enrollment rates and graduation rates of AAPI students is reaching only a small proportion of qualified schools.

Still, the 21 colleges and universities that have won both designation and funding are responsible for enrolling close to 9% of all AAPIs and granting 7.6% of all associate degrees and 5.7% of bachelor's degrees. These numbers allow research to conclude that additional schools so funded could make a real difference to the college enrollment and graduation rates among Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.

APIASF has raised more than $60 million in scholarship funds for underserved Asian-American and Pacific Islander students, he said. Horikoshi explained that similar to scholarship organizations, such as the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, APIASF has undertaken efforts to help study and help direct assistance to a particular segment of minority-serving institutions.

"I am particularly proud to be in collaboration with Professor Robert Teranishi (and) his entire and wonderful National Commission on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Research in Education team as we begin to present the first finding ever of the Partnership for Equity in Education in Research, also known as the PEER project," Horikoshi told summit participants.

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