American Rescue Plan will stabilize the colleges and universities that serve many economically underserved and first-generation students, advocates says.
The act, signed by President Joe Biden Thursday, provides $3 billion for historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions.
“The coronavirus pandemic as well as racial reckoning we all experienced in response to the death of George Floyd made us all so intimately familiar with why HBCUs need more resources during this critical time,” Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said in a statement. “Furthermore, our schools have been underfunded since inception, and we are thankful to procure the funding during one of the most unstable times in recent history.”
Institutions must spend half of the American Rescue Plan’s $40 billion in higher education funding on emergency financial aid grants to students who may be facing hunger, homelessness and other hardships. Many students, of course, are also eligible for $1,400 stimulus checks.
The plan also makes student loan forgiveness passed between December 2020 and January 2026 un-taxable.
Higher ed leaders also hope the Biden administration will continue to support higher ed as it builds the fiscal year 2022 budget and considers additional economic recovery measures, Association of American Universities President Barbara R. Snyder said in a statement.
Snyder said she hopes the administration will bolster federal investments in student aid and research to drive continued economic growth.
“Funding for higher education and research programs and agencies—like those included for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, National Endowment for the Humanities, and others—provides much-needed relief and strengthens our efforts to fight, and mitigate the harmful impacts of, COVID-19,” Snyder said.