Feds award another $3.2 billion to students hardest hit by pandemic
Historic and under-resourced institutions have another $3.2 billion in emergency grants to support students, after the latest release of American Rescue Plan funds Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Over 1,800 institutions are eligible for this batch of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants, which can be used to re-engage disconnected students, expand mental health services, and bolster retention programs that improve graduation rates and workforce preparedness.
“The American Rescue Plan provided critical funds to make sure our nation’s institutions of higher education—particularly those that serve students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—receive the resources they need in order to provide students with a high-quality education and the social, emotional and mental health supports to earn their degrees and thrive,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
“These institutions have a long history of serving our students—particularly students of color, first-generation college students, and other students who are underrepresented in higher education,” Cardona said.
Some $1.6 billion in funding goes to historically Black colleges and universities with another $1.19 billion earmarked for minority-serving institutions and under-resourced schools eligible for Strengthening Institutions programs, many of which are community colleges.
Tribally controlled colleges and universities will receive $143 million.
So far, the American Rescue Plan has provided more than $10 billion to community colleges, $2.6 billion to HBCUs, $190 million to tribal colleges and more than $13 billion to Hispanic-serving institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions.
Additional relief funding awarded
Community colleges will be the main beneficiaries of another $225 million in relief funding targeted towards supporting public and non-profit institutions that have been left with the greatest unmet needs in the wake of the pandemic.
The Supplemental Assistance to Institutions of Higher Education and Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity grant programs allow colleges to award additional financial aid to students and fund student support services.
Some $70 million of these funds has been award to 60 institutions—largely community colleges—that serve a high percentage of low-income students and that experienced substantial fall 2020 enrollment declines.
Another 62 institutions or consortiums will share $112 million to resume or enhance in-person and online operations, implement COVID-19 prevention strategies, and provide student support services, Half of these institutions are community colleges, HBCUs or minority-serving institutions, or rural schools.