A group of students from the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), a UMass Lowell cultural student organization, pose in an outdoor night market.

In 2021, UMass Lowell was awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, officially designating the university as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving-Institution (AANAPISI).

To qualify as an AANAPISI within the Minority Serving Institution Program, a university must have:

  • An undergraduate student population consisting of at least 10% Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander students
  • At least 50 percent of the student body eligible for federal need-based financial assistance such as Pell Grants or Federal Work-Study


According to the most recent data, 13% of UMass Lowell undergraduates identify as Asian American, while fewer than 1% are Pacific Islanders. Many of our students come from Southeast Asian refugee families who have settled in and around Lowell, a city with the second largest population of Cambodian Americans in the U.S. Being awarded the grant means designing support for Asian American and Pacific Islander students. We are honored to be an AANAPISI, as well as a Minority Serving Institution.

This grant also enables the creation of the Asian American Center for Excellence & Engagement, which delivers a wide range of student resources, including:

  • A personalized support network
  • Financial literacy training
  • Career mentoring and readiness
  • Cultural competency training across campus and in the curriculum
  • Community partnerships