[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 57 (Friday, March 23, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17044-17050]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7070]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Applications for New Awards; Strengthening Institutions Program 
(SIP)

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice.

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Overview Information

Strengthening Institutions Program

    Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 
2012.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.031A.

    Dates:
    Applications Available: March 23, 2012.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 23, 2012.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: June 21, 2012.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

    Purpose of Program: The SIP provides grants to eligible 
institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them become self 
sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by 
providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution's academic 
quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.
    Priorities: This notice includes one competitive preference 
priority and three invitational priorities. The competitive preference 
priority is from the Department's notice of final supplemental 
priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs, published 
in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78486), and 
corrected on May 12, 2011 (76 FR 27637).
    Competitive Preference Priority: For FY 2012 and any subsequent 
year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applicants from 
this competition, this priority is a competitive preference priority. 
Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i) we award up to an additional five points 
to an application, depending on how well the application meets this 
priority.
    This priority is:

Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for Which There Is Strong 
or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness

    Projects that are supported by strong or moderate evidence. A 
project that is supported by strong evidence (as defined in this 
notice) will receive more points than a project that is supported by 
moderate evidence (as defined in this notice).

    Note: In scoring this priority, applicants determined to have 
strong evidence will receive the full five points. Applicants 
determined to have moderate evidence will receive 2.5 points. The 
Department will screen applicants' response to this competitive 
preference priority in accordance with the requirements in this 
notice and determine which applications have met the evidence 
standards in the priority.

    Invitational Priorities: For FY 2012 and any subsequent year in 
which we make awards from the list of unfunded applicants from this 
competition, these priorities are invitational priorities.
    These priorities are:

Invitational Priority 1--Increasing Postsecondary Success

    Projects that are designed to address the following priority area:
    Increasing the number and proportion of high-need students (as 
defined in this notice) who persist in and complete college or other 
postsecondary education and training.

Invitational Priority 2--Technology

    Projects that are designed to improve student achievement or 
faculty effectiveness through the use of high-quality digital tools or 
materials, which may include preparing faculty to use the technology to 
improve instruction, as well as developing, implementing, or evaluating 
digital tools or materials.

Invitational Priority 3--Improving Productivity

    Projects that are designed to significantly increase efficiency in 
the use of time, staff, money, or other resources while improving 
student learning or other educational outcomes (i.e., outcome per unit 
of resource). Such projects may include innovative and sustainable uses 
of technology, alternative staffing models, competency-based learning, 
use of open educational resources (as defined in this notice), or other 
strategies.
    Definitions: The following definitions are from the notice of final 
supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant 
programs published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 
78486), and corrected on May 12, 2011 (76 FR 27637), and apply to the 
priorities in this notice:
    Carefully matched comparison group design means a type of quasi-
experimental study (as defined in this notice) that attempts to 
approximate an experimental study (as defined in this notice). More 
specifically, it is a design in which project participants are matched 
with non-participants based on key characteristics that are thought to 
be related to the outcome. These characteristics include, but are not 
limited to:
    (1) Prior test scores and other measures of academic achievement 
(preferably, the same measures that the study will use to evaluate 
outcomes for the two groups);
    (2) Demographic characteristics, such as age, disability, gender, 
English proficiency, ethnicity, poverty level, parents' educational 
attainment, and single- or two-parent family background;
    (3) The time period in which the two groups are studied (e.g., the 
two groups are children entering kindergarten in the same year as 
opposed to sequential years); and
    (4) Methods used to collect outcome data (e.g., the same test of 
reading skills administered in the same way to both groups).

    Note: The examples cited in this definition are indications of 
the types of comparisons applicants could make when designing a 
carefully matched comparison group study. Applicants might want to 
consider comparisons that are proper in the higher education 
context--such as comparing the same entering cohort of students.

    Experimental study means a study that employs random assignment of, 
for example, students, teachers, classrooms, schools, or districts to 
participate in a project being evaluated (treatment group) or not to 
participate in the project (control group). The effect of the project 
is the average difference in outcomes between the treatment and control 
groups.

    Note: The types of random assignment mentioned above are 
provided as examples. Applicants might want to consider random 
assignment that is relevant in the higher education context.

    High-need children and high-need students means children and 
students at risk of educational failure, such as children and students 
who are living in poverty, who are English learners, who are far below 
grade level, or who are not on track to becoming college- or career-
ready by graduation, who have left school or college before receiving, 
respectively, a regular high school diploma or a college degree or

[[Page 17045]]

certificate, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on time, 
who are homeless, who are in foster care, who are pregnant or parenting 
teenagers, who have been incarcerated, who are new immigrants, who are 
migrant, or who have disabilities.
    Interrupted time series design means a type of quasi-experimental 
study (as defined in this notice) in which the outcome of interest is 
measured multiple times before and after the treatment for program 
participants only. If the program had an impact, the outcomes after 
treatment will have a different slope or level from those before 
treatment. That is, the series should show an ``interruption'' of the 
prior situation at the time when the program was implemented. Adding a 
comparison group time series, such as schools not participating in the 
program or schools participating in the program in a different 
geographic area, substantially increases the reliability of the 
findings.\1\
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    \1\ A single subject or single case design is an adaptation of 
an interrupted time series design that relies on the comparison of 
treatment effects on a single subject or group of single subjects. 
There is little confidence that findings based on this design would 
be the same for other members of the population. In some single 
subject designs, treatment reversal or multiple baseline designs are 
used to increase internal validity. In a treatment reversal design, 
after a pretreatment or baseline outcome measurement is compared 
with a post treatment measure, the treatment would then be stopped 
for a period of time; a second baseline measure of the outcome would 
be taken, followed by a second application of the treatment or a 
different treatment. A multiple baseline design addresses concerns 
about the effects of normal development, timing of the treatment, 
and amount of the treatment with treatment-reversal designs by using 
a varying time schedule for introduction of the treatment and/or 
treatments of different lengths or intensity.
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    Moderate evidence means evidence from previous studies whose 
designs can support causal conclusions (i.e., studies with high 
internal validity) but have limited generalizability (i.e., moderate 
external validity), or studies with high external validity but moderate 
internal validity. The following would constitute moderate evidence:
    (1) At least one well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in 
this notice) experimental or quasi-experimental study (as defined in 
this notice) supporting the effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or 
program, with small sample sizes or other conditions of implementation 
or analysis that limit generalizability;
    (2) At least one well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in 
this notice) experimental or quasi-experimental study (as defined in 
this notice) that does not demonstrate equivalence between the 
intervention and comparison groups at program entry but that has no 
other major flaws related to internal validity; or
    (3) Correlational research with strong statistical controls for 
selection bias and for discerning the influence of internal factors.
    Open educational resources (OER) means teaching, learning, and 
research resources that reside in the public domain or have been 
released under an intellectual property license that permits their free 
use or repurposing by others.
    Quasi-experimental study means an evaluation design that attempts 
to approximate an experimental study (as defined in this notice) and 
can support causal conclusions (i.e., minimizes threats to internal 
validity, such as selection bias, or allows them to be modeled). Well-
designed and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) quasi-
experimental studies include carefully matched comparison group designs 
(as defined in this notice), interrupted time series designs (as 
defined in this notice), or regression discontinuity designs (as 
defined in this notice).
    Regression discontinuity design study means, in part, a quasi-
experimental study (as defined in this notice) design that closely 
approximates an experimental study (as defined in this notice). In a 
regression discontinuity design, participants are assigned to a 
treatment or comparison group based on a numerical rating or score of a 
variable unrelated to the treatment such as the rating of an 
application for funding. Another example would be assignment of 
eligible students, teachers, classrooms, or schools above a certain 
score (``cut score'') to the treatment group and assignment of those 
below the score to the comparison group.

    Note: The types of regression discontinuity study designs are 
provided as examples to help applicants. Applicants might want to 
consider regression discontinuity study designs that are relevant in 
the higher education context.

    Strong evidence means evidence from previous studies whose designs 
can support causal conclusions (i.e., studies with high internal 
validity), and studies that in total include enough of the range of 
participants and settings to support scaling up to the State, regional, 
or national level (i.e., studies with high external validity). The 
following are examples of strong evidence:
    (1) More than one well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in 
this notice) experimental study (as defined in this notice) or well-
designed and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) quasi-
experimental study (as defined in this notice) that supports the 
effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or program; or
    (2) One large, well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in 
this notice) randomized controlled, multisite trial that supports the 
effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or program.
    Well-designed and well-implemented means, with respect to an 
experimental or quasi-experimental study (as defined in this notice), 
that the study meets the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards, 
with or without reservations (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/doc.aspx?docid=19&tocid=1 and in particular the 
description of ``Reasons for Not Meeting Standards'' at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/Doc.aspx?docId=19&tocId=4#reasons).

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1057-1059d (Title III, Part A, of 
the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)).

    Note: In 2008, the HEA was amended by the Higher Education 
Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) Pub. L. 110-315. The HEOA made a 
number of technical and substantive revisions to SIP. Please note 
that the regulations for the SIP in 34 CFR part 607 have not been 
updated to reflect these statutory changes.

    Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 
82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The regulations for this program in 
34 CFR part 607. (c) The notice of final supplemental priorities and 
definitions for discretionary grant programs, published in the Federal 
Register on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78486), and corrected on May 12, 
2011 (76 FR 27637).

    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants 
except federally recognized Indian tribes.


    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of 
higher education only.

II. Award Information

    Type of Award: Discretionary grants.
    Estimated Available Funds: $5,304,964.
    Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of 
applications, we may make additional awards in FY 2013 from the list of 
unfunded applicants from this competition.
    Individual Development Grants:
    Estimated Range of Awards: $350,500-$403,500 per year.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: $377,000 per year.
    Estimated Number of Awards: 13.

[[Page 17046]]

    Cooperative Arrangement Development Grants:
    Estimated Range of Awards: $300,000-$500,000 per year.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: $400,000 per year.
    Estimated Number of Awards: 1.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

    1. Eligible Applicants: This program is authorized by Title III, 
Part A, of the HEA. To qualify as an eligible institution under any 
Title III, Part A program, an institution must--
    (1) Be accredited or preaccredited by a nationally recognized 
accrediting agency or association that the Secretary has determined to 
be a reliable authority as to the quality of education or training 
offered;
    (2) Be legally authorized by the State in which it is located to be 
a junior college or to provide an educational program for which it 
awards a bachelor's degree;
    (3) Be designated as an ``eligible institution'' by demonstrating 
that it: (A) Has an enrollment of needy students as described in 34 CFR 
607.3; and (B) has low average educational and general expenditures per 
full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student as described in 34 CFR 
607.4.

    Note: For purposes of establishing eligibility for this 
competition, the Notice Inviting Applications for Designation as 
Eligible Institutions for FY 2012 was published in the Federal 
Register on December 15, 2011 (76 FR 77982), and the deadline for 
submission of the designation of eligibility application was 
February 10, 2012. Only institutions that submitted the required 
application and received designation through this process are 
eligible to submit applications for this competition.

Relationship Between the Title III, Part A Programs and the Hispanic-
Serving Institutions (HSI) Programs.

    Note 1: A grantee under the Developing Hispanic-Serving 
Institutions (HSI) Program, which is authorized under Title V of the 
HEA, may not receive a grant under any HEA, Title III, Part A 
program. The Title III, Part A programs include the SIP, as well as 
the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and 
Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native 
American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, and Native American-
Serving Nontribal Institutions programs. Furthermore, a current HSI 
program grantee may not give up its HSI grant to receive a grant 
under SIP or any Title III, Part A program as described in 34 CFR 
607.2(g)(1).


    Note 2: An eligible HSI that does not fall within the limitation 
described in Note 1 (i.e., is not a current grantee under the HSI 
program) may apply for a FY 2012 grant under all Title III, Part A 
programs for which it is eligible, as well as receive consideration 
for a grant under the HSI program. However, a successful applicant 
may receive only one grant as described in 34 CFR 607.2(g)(1).


    Note 3: An eligible IHE that submits more than one application 
may only be awarded one individual development grant or one 
cooperative arrangement development grant in a fiscal year. We will 
not award a second cooperative arrangement development grant to an 
otherwise eligible IHE for the same award year as the IHE's existing 
cooperative arrangement development grant award as described in 34 
CFR 607.9(b)(1).


    Note 4: The Department will make five-year awards for individual 
development grants and five-year awards for cooperative arrangement 
development grants in rank order from the funding slate according to 
the average score received from a panel of three readers plus any 
competitive preference points awarded based upon determination of 
the evidence.

    2. a. Cost Sharing or Matching: This program does not require cost 
sharing or matching unless the grantee uses a portion of its grant for 
establishing or improving an endowment fund. If a grantee uses a 
portion of its grant for endowment fund purposes, it must match those 
grant funds with non-Federal funds (20 U.S.C. 1059c(c) (3)(B)).
    b. Supplement-Not-Supplant: This program involves supplement-not-
supplant funding requirements. Grant funds shall be used so that they 
supplement and, to the extent practical, increase the funds that would 
otherwise be available for the activities to be carried out under the 
grant and in no case supplant those funds (34 CFR 607.30(b)).

IV. Application and Submission Information

    1. Address to Request Application Package: You can obtain an 
application via the Internet using the following address: http://
http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov. If you do not have access to the Internet, please contact 
LaTonya Brown or Robyn Wood, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K 
Street NW., room 6033, Washington, DC 20006-8513. You may contact the 
individuals at the following email addresses and telephone numbers:

LaTonya.Brown@ed.gov; (202) 502-7619.
Robyn.Wood@ed.gov; (202) 502-7437.

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text 
telephone (TTY), toll free, at 1-800-576-7734.
    Individuals with disabilities can obtain a copy of the application 
package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, 
or compact disc) by contacting the program contacts listed in this 
section.
    2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements 
concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you 
must submit, are in the application package for this program.
    Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) 
is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria and the 
competitive preference priority that reviewers use to evaluate your 
application. We have established mandatory page limits for both the 
Individual Development Grant and the Cooperative Arrangement 
Development Grant applications. If you are addressing the competitive 
preference priority you must limit the application narrative (Part III) 
to no more than 55 pages for the Individual Development Grant 
application and no more than 75 pages for the Cooperative Arrangement 
Development Grant application. Please include a separate heading when 
responding to the competitive preference priority. If you are not 
addressing the competitive preference priority, you must limit your 
application narrative to no more than 50 pages for the Individual 
Development Grant and no more than 70 pages for the Cooperative 
Arrangement Development Grant application

    Note: Applicants should provide information addressing the 
required evidence standards in Appendix D, under ``Other Attachments 
Form,'' of the application. An applicant must either ensure that all 
evidence is available to the Department from publicly available 
sources and provide links or other guidance indicating where it is 
available or include copies of evidence in Appendix D of the 
application. If the Department determines that an applicant has 
provided insufficient information, the applicant will not have an 
opportunity to provide additional information to support the 
application.

    For the purpose of determining compliance with the page limit, each 
page on which there are words will be counted as one full page. 
Applicants must use the following standards:
     A ``page'' is 8.5 x 11, on one side 
only, with 1 margins at the top, bottom, and both sides. 
Page numbers and an identifier may be outside of the 1 
margin.
     Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) 
all text in the application narrative, except titles, headings, 
footnotes, quotations, references, and captions. Text in charts,

[[Page 17047]]

tables, figures, and graphs in the application narrative may be single 
spaced and will count toward the page limit.
     Use a font that is either 12 point or larger, and no 
smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch). However, you may use a 10-
point font in charts, tables, figures, graphs, footnotes, and endnotes.
     Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, 
Courier New, or Arial. Applications submitted in any other font 
(including Times Roman and Arial Narrow) will not be accepted.
    The page limit does not apply to Part I, the Application for 
Federal Assistance (SF 424-cover sheet); the Supplemental Information 
for SF 424 Form required by the Department of Education; Part II, the 
budget section, Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), 
including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances 
and certifications; or the one-page program abstract, the resumes, the 
bibliography, or the letters of support. However, the page limit does 
apply to all of the application narrative section (Part III), including 
the budget narrative of the selection criteria and the competitive 
preference priority. If you include any attachments or appendices not 
specifically requested in the application package, these items will be 
counted as part of your application narrative (Part III) for the 
purposed of the page limit requirement. You must include your complete 
response to the selection criteria in the application narrative.

    Note: The narrative response to the budget selection criteria is 
not the same as the activity detail budget form and supporting 
narrative. The supporting narrative for the activity detail budget 
form lists the requested budget line items line by line.
    We will reject your application if you exceed the page limit.

    3. Submission Dates and Times:
    Applications Available: March 23, 2012.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 23, 2012.
    Applications for grants under this program must be submitted 
electronically using the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov Apply site (http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov). For 
information (including dates and times) about how to submit your 
application electronically, or in paper format by mail or hand delivery 
if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission 
requirement, please refer to section IV. 7. Other Submission 
Requirements of this notice.
    We do not consider an application that does not comply with the 
deadline requirements.
    Individuals with disabilities who need an accommodation or 
auxiliary aid in connection with the application process should contact 
the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII 
of this notice. If the Department provides an accommodation or 
auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability in connection with the 
application process, the individual's application remains subject to 
all other requirements and limitations in this notice.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: June 21, 2012.
    4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about 
Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 
12372 is in the application package for this program.
    5. Funding Restrictions: (a) General. We reference the regulations 
outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of 
this notice.
    (b) Applicability of Executive Order 13202. Applicants that apply 
for construction funds under the Title III, Part A, HEA programs, must 
comply with Executive Order 13202, signed by former President George W. 
Bush on February 17, 2001, and amended on April 6, 2001. This Executive 
order provides that recipients of Federal construction funds may not 
``require or prohibit bidders, offerors, contractors, or subcontractors 
to enter into or adhere to agreements with one or more labor 
organizations, on the same or other construction project(s)'' or 
``otherwise discriminate against bidders, offerors, contractors, or 
subcontractors for becoming or refusing to become or remain signatories 
or otherwise adhere to agreements with one or more labor organizations, 
on the same or other construction project(s).'' However, the Executive 
order does not prohibit contractors or subcontractors from voluntarily 
entering into these agreements. Projects funded under this program that 
include construction activity will be provided a copy of this Executive 
order and will be asked to certify that they will adhere to it.
    6. Data Universal Numbering System Number, Taxpayer Identification 
Number, and Central Contractor Registry: To do business with the 
Department of Education, you must--
    a. Have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and a 
Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN);
    b. Register both your DUNS number and TIN with the Central 
Contractor Registry (CCR), the Government's primary registrant 
database;
    c. Provide your DUNS number and TIN on your application; and
    d. Maintain an active CCR registration with current information 
while your application is under review by the Department and, if you 
are awarded a grant, during the project period.
    You can obtain a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet. A DUNS number 
can be created within one business day.
    If you are a corporate entity, agency, institution, or 
organization, you can obtain a TIN from the Internal Revenue Service. 
If you are an individual, you can obtain a TIN from the Internal 
Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration. If you need a 
new TIN, please allow two to five weeks for your TIN to become active.
    The CCR registration process may take five or more business days to 
complete. If you are currently registered with the CCR, you may not 
need to make any changes. However, please make certain that the TIN 
associated with your DUNS number is correct. Also note that you will 
need to update your CCR registration on an annual basis. This may take 
three or more business days to complete. In addition, if you are 
submitting your application via http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov, you must (1) be designated 
by your organization as an Authorized Organization Representative 
(AOR); and (2) register yourself with http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov as an AOR. Details of 
these steps are outlined on the following http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov Web page: 
www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp.
    7. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under the 
Strengthening Institutions Program must be submitted electronically 
unless you qualify for an exception to this requirement in accordance 
with the instructions in this section.

a. Electronic Submission of Applications

    Applications for grants under the Strengthening Institutions 
Program (CFDA number 84.031A) must be submitted electronically using 
the Governmentwide http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov Apply site at www.Grants.gov. Through 
this site, you will be able to download a copy of the application 
package, complete it offline, and then upload and submit your 
application. You may not email an electronic copy of a grant 
application to us.
    We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format 
unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of 
the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no 
later than two weeks before

[[Page 17048]]

the application deadline date, a written statement to the Department 
that you qualify for one of these exceptions. Further information 
regarding calculation of the date that is two weeks before the 
application deadline date is provided later in this section under 
Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement.
    You may access the electronic grant application for this 
competition at www.Grants.gov. You must search for the downloadable 
application package for this program by the CFDA number. Do not include 
the CFDA number's alpha suffix in your search (e.g., search for 84.031, 
not 84.031A).
    Please note the following:
     When you enter the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov site, you will find 
information about submitting an application electronically through the 
site, as well as the hours of operation.
     Applications received by http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov are date and time 
stamped. Your application must be fully uploaded and submitted and must 
be date and time stamped by the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system no later than 4:30:00 
p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. Except as 
otherwise noted in this section, we will not accept your application if 
it is received--that is, date and time stamped by the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov 
system--after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application 
deadline date. We do not consider an application that does not comply 
with the deadline requirements. When we retrieve your application from 
http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov, we will notify you if we are rejecting your application 
because it was date and time stamped by the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system after 
4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date.
     The amount of time it can take to upload an application 
will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the 
application and the speed of your Internet connection. Therefore, we 
strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline 
date to begin the submission process through http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov.
     You should review and follow the Education Submission 
Procedures for submitting an application through http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov that are 
included in the application package for this competition to ensure that 
you submit your application in a timely manner to the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov 
system. You can also find the Education Submission Procedures 
pertaining to http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov under News and Events on the Department's G5 
system home page at http://www.G5.gov.
     You will not receive additional point value because you 
submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you 
if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission 
requirement, as described elsewhere in this section, and submit your 
application in paper format.
     You must submit all documents electronically, including 
all information you typically provide on the following forms: The 
Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424), the Department of 
Education Supplemental Information for SF 424, Budget Information--Non-
Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and 
certifications.
     You must upload any narrative sections and all other 
attachments to your application as files in a PDF (Portable Document) 
read-only, non-modifiable format. Do not upload an interactive or 
fillable PDF file. If you upload a file type other than a read-only, 
non-modifiable PDF or submit a password-protected file, we will not 
review that material.
     Your electronic application must comply with any page-
limit requirements described in this notice.
     After you electronically submit your application, you will 
receive from http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov an automatic notification of receipt that 
contains a http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov tracking number. (This notification indicates 
receipt by http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov only, not receipt by the Department.) The 
Department then will retrieve your application from http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov and send 
a second notification to you by email. This second notification 
indicates that the Department has received your application and has 
assigned your application a PR/Award number (an ED-specified 
identifying number unique to your application).
     We may request that you provide us original signatures on 
forms at a later date.
    Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of Technical Issues 
with the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov System: If you are experiencing problems submitting 
your application through http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov, please contact the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov 
Support Desk, toll free, at 1-800-518-4726. You must obtain a 
http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov Support Desk Case Number and must keep a record of it.
    If you are prevented from electronically submitting your 
application on the application deadline date because of technical 
problems with the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system, we will grant you an extension 
until 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, the following business day to 
enable you to transmit your application electronically or by hand 
delivery. You also may mail your application by following the mailing 
instructions described elsewhere in this notice.
    If you submit an application after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC 
time, on the application deadline date, please contact the person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII of this 
notice and provide an explanation of the technical problem you 
experienced with http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov, along with the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov Support Desk 
Case Number. We will accept your application if we can confirm that a 
technical problem occurred with the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system and that that 
problem affected your ability to submit your application by 4:30:00 
p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. The 
Department will contact you after a determination is made on whether 
your application will be accepted.

    Note: The extensions to which we refer in this section apply 
only to the unavailability of, or technical problems with, the 
http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system. We will not grant you an extension if you failed 
to fully register to submit your application to http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov before 
the application deadline date and time or if the technical problem 
you experienced is unrelated to the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system.

    Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement: You qualify for an 
exception to the electronic submission requirement, and may submit your 
application in paper format, if you are unable to submit an application 
through the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system because--
     You do not have access to the Internet; or
     You do not have the capacity to upload large documents to 
the http://Grants.gov">Grants.gov system; and
     No later than two weeks before the application deadline 
date (14 calendar days or, if the fourteenth calendar day before the 
application deadline date falls on a Federal holiday, the next business 
day following the Federal holiday), you mail or fax a written statement 
to the Department, explaining which of the two grounds for an exception 
prevent you from using the Internet to submit your application.
    If you mail your written statement to the Department, it must be 
postmarked no later than two weeks before the application deadline 
date. If you fax your written statement to the Department, we must 
receive the faxed statement no later than two weeks before the 
application deadline date.
    Address and mail or fax your statement to: LaTonya Brown or Robyn 
Wood, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW., room 6033, 
Washington, DC 20006-8513. FAX: (202) 502-7861.
    Your paper application must be submitted in accordance with the 
mail

[[Page 17049]]

or hand delivery instructions described in this notice.

 b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail

    If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission 
requirement, you may mail (through the U.S. Postal Service or a 
commercial carrier) your application to the Department. You must mail 
the original and two copies of your application, on or before the 
application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: 
U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: 
(CFDA Number 84.031A), LBJ Basement Level 1, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20202-4260.
    You must show proof of mailing consisting of one of the following:
    (1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark.
    (2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the 
U.S. Postal Service.
    (3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial 
carrier.
    (4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the 
U.S. Department of Education.
    If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do 
not accept either of the following as proof of mailing:
    (1) A private metered postmark.
    (2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.
    If your application is postmarked after the application deadline 
date, we will not consider your application.

    Note: The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated 
postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your 
local post office.

c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery

    If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission 
requirement, you (or a courier service) may deliver your paper 
application to the Department by hand. You must deliver the original 
and two copies of your application by hand, on or before the 
application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: 
U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: 
(CFDA Number 84.031A), 550 12th Street SW., Room 7041, Potomac Center 
Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-4260.

The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily between 8 
a.m. and 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays, Sundays, 
and Federal holidays.

    Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper Applications: If you 
mail or hand deliver your application to the Department--
    (1) You must indicate on the envelope and--if not provided by 
the Department--in Item 11 of the SF 424 the CFDA number, including 
suffix letter, if any, of the competition under which you are 
submitting your application; and
    (2) The Application Control Center will mail to you a 
notification of receipt of your grant application. If you do not 
receive this notification within 15 business days from the 
application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of 
Education Application Control Center at (202) 245-6288.

V. Application Review Information

    1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this program are 
from 34 CFR 607.22, (a) through (g). Applicants must address each of 
the following selection criteria (separately for each proposed 
activity). The total weight of the selection criteria is 100 points; 
the maximum score for each criterion is noted in parentheses. The 
complete language of the selection criteria is in the application 
package for this competition.
    (a) Quality of The Applicant's Comprehensive Development Plan 
(Maximum 25 Points).
    (b) Quality of Activity Objectives (Maximum 15 Points).
    (c) Quality of Implementation Strategy (Maximum 20 Points).
    (d) Quality of Key Personnel (Maximum 7 Points).
    (e) Quality of Project Management Plan (Maximum 10 Points).
    (f) Quality of Evaluation Plan (Maximum 15 Points).
    (g) Budget (Maximum 8 Points).
    2. Review and Selection Process: (a) Awards will be made in rank 
order according to the average score received from a panel of three 
readers.
    Tie-breaker for Development Grants. In tie-breaking situations for 
development grants, 34 CFR 607.23(b) requires that we award one 
additional point to an application from an IHE that has an endowment 
fund of which the current market value, per full time equivalent (FTE) 
enrolled student, is less than the average current market value of the 
endowment funds, per FTE enrolled student at comparable type 
institutions that offer similar instruction. We award one additional 
point to an application from an IHE that has expenditures for library 
materials per FTE enrolled student that are less than the average 
expenditure for library materials per FTE enrolled student at similar 
type institutions. We also add one additional point to an application 
from an IHE that proposes to carry out one or more of the following 
activities--
    (1) Faculty development;
    (2) Funds and administrative management;
    (3) Development and improvement of academic programs;
    (4) Acquisition of equipment for use in strengthening management 
and academic programs;
    (5) Joint use of facilities; and
    (6) Student services.
    For the purpose of these funding considerations, we use 2009-2010 
data.
    If a tie remains after applying the tie-breaker mechanism above, 
priority will be given in the case of applicants for: (a) Individual 
development grants to applicants that have the lowest endowment values 
per FTE enrolled student; and (b) cooperative arrangement development 
grants to applicants in accordance with section 394(b) of the HEA, if 
the Secretary determines that the cooperative arrangement is 
geographically and economically sound or will benefit the applicant 
institution.
    We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in 
any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 
34 CFR 75.217(d)-(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying 
out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement 
of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The 
Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a 
timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable 
quality.
    In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary 
also requires various assurances including those applicable to Federal 
civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or 
activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department 
of Education (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).
    3. Special Conditions: Under 34 CFR 74.14 and 80.12, the Secretary 
may impose special conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is 
not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; 
has a financial or other management system that does not meet the 
standards in 34 CFR parts 74 or 80, as applicable; has not fulfilled 
the conditions of a prior grant (34 CFR 607.24); or, is otherwise not 
responsible.

VI. Award Administration Information

    1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your 
U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award 
Notification (GAN). We may notify you informally, also.

[[Page 17050]]

    If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, 
we notify you.
    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify 
administrative and national policy requirements in the application 
package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable 
Regulations section of this notice.
    We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of 
an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and 
include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also 
incorporates your approved application as part of your binding 
commitments under the grant.
    3. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, 
you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and 
systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 
should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply 
if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).
    (b) At the end of your project period, you must submit a final 
performance report, including financial information, as directed by the 
Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual 
performance report that provides the most current performance and 
financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 
CFR 75.118 and 34 CFR 607.31. The Secretary may also require more 
frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific 
requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/appforms.html.
    4. Performance Measures: The Secretary has established the 
following key performance measures for assessing the effectiveness of 
the Strengthening Institutions Program:
    a. The percentage change, over the 5-year period, of the number of 
full-time degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled at SIP institutions. 
Note that this is a long-term measure, which will be used to 
periodically gauge performance;
    b. The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking 
undergraduate students at 4-year SIP institutions who were in their 
first year of postsecondary enrollment in the previous year and are 
enrolled in the current year at the same SIP institution;
    c. The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking 
undergraduate students at 2-year SIP institutions who were in their 
first year of postsecondary enrollment in the previous year and are 
enrolled in the current year at the same SIP institution;
    d. The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking 
undergraduate students enrolled at 4-year SIP institutions graduating 
within 6 years of enrollment; and
    e. The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking 
undergraduate students enrolled at 2-year SIP institutions graduating 
within 3 years of enrollment.
    5. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award, the 
Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.253, the extent to which a 
grantee has made ``substantial progress toward meeting the objectives 
in its approved application.'' This consideration includes the review 
of a grantee's progress in meeting the targets and projected outcomes 
in its approved application, and whether the grantee has expended funds 
in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and 
budget. In making a continuation grant, the Secretary also considers 
whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in 
its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil 
rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities 
receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 
100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

VII. Agency Contacts

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: LaTonya Brown or Robyn Wood, U.S. 
Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW., room 6033, Washington, DC 
20006-8513. You may contact these individuals at the following email 
addresses and telephone numbers:

Latonya.Brown@ed.gov; (202) 502-7619.
Robyn.Wood@ed.gov; (202) 502-7437.

    If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-
8339.

VIII. Other Information

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format 
(e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to 
the program contact person listed under For Further Information Contact 
in section VII of this notice.
    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this 
document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free 
Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the 
Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System 
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well 
as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, 
you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the 
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: March 20, 2012.
Eduardo M. Ochoa,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2012-7070 Filed 3-22-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P