PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island College has been awarded a $1.1 million federal grant to prepare students for graduate school who are the first in their families to earn a college degree.

The state’s congressional delegation announced the grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement grant will be distributed over five years to help low-income, first-generation college students prepare for graduate school.

McNair students receive mentoring, academic advising, tutoring and stipends to conduct research on a graduate level.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, says Rhode Island College students from diverse backgrounds with strong academic potential will have the opportunity to advance their education and open new doors.

This year, 161 McNair Scholars Program proposals were funded at colleges nationwide.