In 2010, UMass Boston was one of eight higher education institutions awarded a five-year federal Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) grant by the U.S. Department of Education. Originally introduced in Congress in 2002, this AANAPISI designation finally became law in 2007. To qualify for designation as an AANAPISI, an institution’s enrollment of undergraduate students must be at least 10 percent Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander, and at least 50 percent of the student body must be eligible for federal need-based financial assistance, such as Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study.

UMass Boston received the top score in the country of all AANAPISI proposals evaluated by external reviewers. Only seven other institutions received AANAPISI grants in the national competition for the 2010 grant cycle. These institutions are Mission Community College (Santa Clara, CA), Coastline Community College (Orange County, CA), University of Illinois at Chicago, Laney College (Oakland, CA), Richland College (Dallas, TX), City College of San Francisco, and University of Guam.

In August 2015, UMass Boston was awarded a second five-year cycle of AANAPISI funding by the U.S. Department of Education. AANAPISI funding helps participating institutions strengthen retention and persistence services, bolster recruitment programs, and expand staff and resources to help currently underserved students. The university is the only qualified institution in New England that has been awarded the grant.