U.S. Department of Education Quickly Makes Available More Than $21 Billion in Taxpayer Funds to Support Continued Education at Colleges, Universities

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US Department of Education

Jan. 14, 2021
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Quickly Makes Available More Than $21 Billion in Taxpayer Funds to Support Continued Education at Colleges, Universities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education announced today that an additional $21.2 billion is now available to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is allocated to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 27, 2020.  

The CRRSAA appropriated $82 billion for education, and the Department has made available all but $1.9 billion of that funding in the 18 days since the law was enacted. Earlier this year, former Secretary DeVos expeditiously provided $30.75 billion for education through the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Today’s announcement awards $20.5 billion to public and non-profit colleges and universities and $681 million to proprietary schools. Public and non-profit schools can use their awards for financial aid grants to students, student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll. Proprietary schools must use their awards exclusively to provide financial aid grants to students. 

“The Department is working quickly, yet again, to ensure taxpayer-funded COVID relief allocated by Congress gets to those who need it most. I would encourage leaders of our higher education institutions to use this funding as former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested during the first round of relief—to support students who are struggling financially in the wake of this pandemic and to build IT and distance learning capacity for now and in preparation for the future,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Mitchell "Mick" Zais.

Allocations to institutions are based on a formula that includes the relative shares of Federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Federal Pell and non-Pell Grant recipients exclusively enrolled in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.

CRRSAA continues to support the important work of addressing students’ unmet needs by providing a minimum amount of funding that each institution must devote towards financial aid grants to students. In addition, funds received for students enrolled exclusively in distance education and all funding awarded to proprietary institutions may be used only for financial aid grants to students. The small number of institutions that owed an excise tax on their endowments for tax year 2019 will only be entitled to receive half-awards and will be required to spend the vast majority of it on financial aid grants for students.

Public and private non-profit IHEs that already have approved CARES Act HEERF awards are not required to submit a new or revised application to receive additional funding under the CRRSAA. Public and private nonprofit IHEs that did not receive HEERF Student Portion and/or Institutional Portion awards under the CARES Act, as well as proprietary institutions, may apply for funding under the CRRSAA via Grants.gov.

The Department is also working expeditiously to allocate the remaining funding provided to IHEs under the CRRSAA and will provide details on how eligible institutions may apply for this additional emergency funding in the coming days.  

For more information on HEERF II and the CRRSAA please visit our website here.