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Title III & V and "MSI" Status

The following information speaks to Old Dominion's Title III/V eligibility, which is based on the number of students who have Pell grants, and to how the term "minority serving institution" (MSI), which is not an official designation, can be appropriately used to describe ODU. To be clear, based on how most federal funding programs define MSIs, ODU is not an MSI.

ODU's Title III and Title V status

Old Dominion University (ODU) has a high number of low-income students (Pell Grant recipients), and for that reason, the Department of Education (DoED) has recognized ODU as an "Eligible Institution under Title III and Title V programs of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEA)."

Benefits of ODU's Title III/V designation

This recognition of Old Dominion's Title III and Title V status means the university is eligible for certain federal funding opportunities. For example, some funding mechanisms from the DoED allow all Title III eligible institutions to apply, while other mechanisms from DoED might exclude institutions with Part A of Title III from eligibility. If a funding opportunity is open to universities eligible for assistance under Title III or V of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1051 et seq.), ODU is eligible.

Title III/V Documentation Letter

Eligibility is documented through the Title III/V documentation letter, which must be submitted with the grant proposal. This letter, updated annually, is from the US Department of Education and does not mention "MSI;" rather, it simply designates ODU as eligible to apply for new grants under any of the Title III and Title V programs. For a copy of the most recent Title III/V documentation letter, please contact Jackie Stein, Director of Research Development at 757-683-6758 or jstein@odu.edu.

ODU's "MSI Status"

Old Dominion must be careful about presenting itself as an "MSI" because the same term, "Minority-Serving Institution" (MSI), is used as an umbrella term for the Minority-Serving Institutions that are defined by legal statute, such as "Historically Black Colleges and Universities" (HBCUs) and "Hispanic-Serving Institutions" (HSIs), as well as others with high enrollments of Native Americans, Asian Americans and Native American Pacific Islanders, and Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. This type of Minority-Serving Institution has a minority student enrollment of greater than 50 percent. ODU is not that kind of MSI.

However, ODU can be described as a "minority serving institution," which is not an official designation. When in lower-case, "minority serving institution" indicates that a postsecondary institution's enrollment includes at least 25% of a specific minority group. Old Dominion is considered a "minority serving institution" because over 25% of our undergraduate students are African American. ODU first achieved this level of diversity in fall 2015. The term "minority serving institution" is consistent with the definition used in Characteristics of Minority-Serving Institutions and Minority Undergraduates Enrolled in These Institutions, a report issued by the US Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences in 2008:

Black‐serving non‐HBCUs: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs, but in which Black students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment

- Characteristics of Minority-Serving Institutions and Minority Undergraduates Enrolled in These Institutions

Benefits of ODU's "minority serving institution" status

ODU's status as a "minority serving institution" provides eligibility and/or a "Competitive Preference Priority" for certain academic programs, research and scholarly activities. A potential funding agency's guidelines and the specific funding opportunity must be evaluated carefully since ODU is not eligible as a "Minority-Serving Institution" as defined by legal statute (HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISI, etc.). For many federal agencies, "MSI" eligibility criteria vary from one funding program to another. In general, most "Minority Institution" funding opportunities issued by NASA and NSF exclude ODU's type of MSI status, instead using a very specific definition under which ODU is not eligible. In cases where the funding announcement is not clear, the Office of Research will contact the program officer on behalf of the PI to confirm eligibility. ODU's recognition as a "minority serving institution" primarily means ODU is an institution that values diversity.

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