Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions: Areas Of Growth, Innovation, And Collaboration

Our system of higher education must realize a fundamentally different approach to teaching and learning because of our nation’s rapidly changing demography. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent the fastest growing demographic in our country today.1 The federal government has responded to this 21st century reality by creating the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) federal program. This program is a competitive grant process for institutions with at least a 10% enrollment of AAPI full-time equivalent students, a minimum threshold of low-income students, and a lower than average educational and general expenditure per student.

As of November 2012, there were 150 institutions that met the federal criteria for being an AANAPISI. These institutions enroll 41.2% of AAPI undergraduates nationally. Community colleges, which are a major focus of the Obama Administration, represent more than half of the institutions with the AANAPISI designation. The AANAPISI program is one of the most significant investments ever made for the AAPI college student population by the federal government. It is notable because it:

  • acknowledges the unique challenges facing AAPI students in college access and completion,2
  • represents a significant commitment of much-needed resources to improve the postsecondary completion rates among AAPI and low- income students, and
  • recognizes that campus settings are mutable points of intervention–sites of possibilities for responding to the impediments encountered by AAPI students.3

This brief aims to raise the national visibility of the AANAPISI program and link the needs of these institutions to the hundreds of similar Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs)a across the country.

Why An MSI Policy Strategy Is Needed For AAPI Students

The AANAPISI program not only signals federal commitment to the AAPI community, it provides much- needed resources to institutions that serve high concentrations of AAPI students and enables them to respond to the specific needs that impact college access and success.

  • Two-fifths of AAPI undergraduate studentsb nationally attended an institution eligible to be an AANAPISI. These institutions enrolled 536,544 AAPI undergraduates and awarded nearly 43,198 associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to AAPI students in 2010.4
  • A large proportion of AAPI students at AANAPISIs were from low-income backgrounds, the first in their families to attend college, and struggled to secure the financial resources to support themselves while in school.5 According to a CRS study (2009), the first 116 institutions that met the criteria for AANAPISI eligibility enrolled 75% of the low-income AAPI undergraduate students.6
  • AAPI students attending AANAPISIs were also more likely than their peers to be immigrants, non-native speakers of English, and students who enroll in ELL programs (which are typically geared toward Spanish speakers).7

AANAPISI Grantees Promote AAPI Student Success

Since 2008, 21 institutions have received funding through the program. Federal funding incentivizes institutional reform on AANAPISI campuses, which is increasing college access and success (persistence, degree attainment, and four-year college transfer) for AAPI students. While each one of the AANAPISIs is using its grant in unique ways, several commonalities exist among the programs. These services are concentrated in the following areas:

  • Academic Development. AANAPISI funding is being used to improve the academic development of students, increase the quantity and variety of courses being offered, and increase student participation in certain academic programs.
  • StudentServices.AANAPISIfundingisbeingusedtodevelop financial aid advising, student learning communities, first-year experience programs, academic and personal counseling, and tutoring programs.
  • Leadership and Mentorship Opportunities. AANAPISI funding helps provide students with access to leadership development and mentorship opportunities that raise their academic and career success.
  • Professional Development. AANAPISI funding is helping to increase awareness about the unique needs and challenges of AAPI students among staff and faculty, which improves the sustainability of programs over time.
  • Research and Resource Development. AANAPISI funding is also being used to develop new research about the AAPI population, including ways to collect better data and ways to better target resources aimed at supporting their success in college.

Recommendations And Areas Of Opportunity

AANAPISIs are uniquely positioned to both benefit from and contribute to the common interests of MSI programs. The programs combined promote targeted services for minority students and improving faculty and staff development for institutions that serve high concentrations of low-income students of color. To fully leverage the potential of AANAPISIs, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Increase investment in the AANAPISI program, to increase the number of institutions that receive AANAPISI grants and to increase the investment at each individual campus. While there are 150 institutions that meet the federal criteria for being an AANAPISI, only 14% of the eligible institutions have received funding. The size of the grants to each institution is also much smaller than is the case for other MSI programs (e.g., HSIs, PBIs, etc.).
  • Provide resources to improve outreach to “emerging AANAPISIs.” While 150 institutions are eligible to be AANAPISIs, only 78 institutions have formally applied for and received the designation. More institutions need to be aware of their eligibility and would benefit from technical assistance to apply for the designation.
  • Support the creation of an AANAPISI umbrella organization that can help advocate for AANAPISI institutions, support research, and sustain contact between the institutions. Without such an organization, AANAPISI campuses are challenged in their ability to share with the public the success and impact of their programs.

Analysis Of AANAPISI Enrollment And Degree Attainment 2009-10 Academic Year

Data Sources: NCES, IPEDS, 12-month unduplicated headcount and full-year degree production.
Notes: *We utilized methodology developed by Congressional Research Services to determine the number of institutions on the threshold of eligibility. Analysis by the National Commission on AAPI Research in Education (CARE), November 2012.

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a - NHBCUs; TCUs; and HSIs.

b - Among Title IV undergraduate degree-granting, public institutions.

1 - National Commission on AAPI Research in Education, The Relevance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the College Completion Agenda (New York, 2010).

2 - R. Teranishi, Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education (New York: Teachers College Press, 2010).

3 - National Commission on AAPI Research in Education, Federal Policy Priorities and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community (New York, 2010).

4 - U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System 12-Month Enrollment Survey (IPEDS-E12:06), 2006.

5 - T. Yeh, "Issues of College Persistence Between Asian and Asian Pacific American Students," Journal of College Student Retention, 6, no. 1 (2004): 81–96.

6 - Congressional Research Service, Memorandum Regarding the Number of Institutions Potentially Eligible to Receive Grants Under the Assistance to Asian American and Native American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions Program (Washington, DC, 2009).

7 - B. Suzuki, “Revisiting the Model Minority Stereotype: Implications for Student Affairs Practice and Higher Education,” New Directions for Student Services, 97 (2002): 21-32; Yeh, “Issues of College Persistence Between Asian and Asian Pacific American Students.”