Ed Dept issues $36B in federal coronavirus relief aid to colleges

Higher Ed Dive 

Hallie Busta
May 11, 2021
Dive Brief:
  • The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that it is distributing more than $36 billion in funding to colleges through the latest federal coronavirus rescue package.
  • The department issued a final rule, which Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters on Monday will enable all students to receive the aid. The Trump administration moved to exclude certain students, including unauthorized immigrant and international students, from the first round of federal relief.
  • So far, more than $76 billion in coronavirus relief funding has been earmarked for colleges across the three major aid packages, according to the department.
Dive Insight:
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law in March. It provides about $40 billion in direct aid to colleges and universities. Institutions must use half of that money on emergency grants for students disadvantaged by the pandemic.
In its announcement Tuesday, the department shared more details on how colleges could use those funds. For instance, they can consider a “variety of factors” when determining a students’ level of need. That includes their eligibility for other federal and state aid, “significant unexpected expenses,” employment or income loss, and food or housing insecurity, according to documents shared with the media. Colleges can also consider the needs of students who didn’t complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.