Santa Monica College (SMC) has received a $2.1-million, two-year federal grant for a comprehensive pilot program designed to address academic needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, as well as low-income students.

The two-year program, which aims to serve 300 students, will include specialized tutoring, counseling, establishment of an academic library of interest to this population and other special services tailored to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The goal is to help these students complete their Associate of Arts degree and/or transfer to a four-year university within three years, SMC officials said.

“This grant will provide SMC a wonderful opportunity to reach students who are struggling academically and need special assistance,” said SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang. “While this particular population is often seen as high achieving, there are subgroups that are achieving far below average academically. This grant will help ensure their greater success in college.”

The U.S. Department of Education grant is given to colleges and universities that qualify as Asian American/Pacific Islander-serving institutions. To qualify, a college must have an enrollment of at least ten percent of this population. SMC’s enrollment of Asian American/Pacific Islander students is 14 percent.

Federal guidelines also allow the college to serve some other low-income students who do not fall into this ethnic category.

The grant will fund the pilot program from October 1st of this year through September 30th, 2011.