Final HEERF grants will go to helping 244 HBCUs, MSIs and community colleges

Uncertainty remains around further assistance for colleges and universities after pandemic relief ends.

The last of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) were approved for more than 240 institutions on Wednesday, with the vast majority going to assist colleges that serve diverse and low-income student populations.

The grant money—totaling $198 million—is being targeted to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), rural institutions and community colleges, which were shut out of the Biden Administration’s Back Better Plan that stalled in Congress. The overall American Rescue Plan has directed nearly $40 billion to institutions through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this round gives another boost to those struggling to meet needs and facing enrollment losses.

“The institutions that serve our highest-need students were not only hit hard by the pandemic but in many cases have also struggled with chronic underinvestment and funding inequities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “This funding will help HBCUs, MSIs, community colleges, and other inclusive institutions better support their students, from investing in campus mental health to providing financial relief to meeting housing, transportation, and child care needs.”

Through the grants, colleges and universities also have been able to wipe out balances to get students to completion while reducing the costs of class materials. One of the big targets of funds has been best practices that address COVID-19 response and mitigation. All of it has helped institutions in their retention efforts and in bringing back students who have stopped out.

“When we invest in stronger supports for our students, we help remove barriers to their success so that they can stay on track with their studies, complete their degrees, and ultimately, build rewarding careers,” Cardona said.

What is unclear during this period of inflation and rising costs to institutions is whether there will be further relief on the horizon. Community colleges already have received $10 billion under the ARP, with MSIs ($13 billion), HBCUs ($2.6 billion) and tribal colleges ($190 million) getting big relief packages. In his 2023 budget plan, President Joe Biden has proposed a sizeable boost to those institutions—$750 million more than in 2021—in hopes of further assisting them and their students.

Will that happen? Biden’s proposal for free community college for all was eliminated from his Build Back proposal. Some states such as Maine are planning to provide additional supports to community colleges, for example, knowing that they again may not get the funding they need when budgets are finalized. Biden is still hoping to help students defray costs through an increase in Pell Grant allowances, which is outlined in his FY23 budget.

The Department of Education reminds institutions that HEERF money, and any leftover funds, not only can be used toward COVID-19-related expenses and emergencies but also toward initiatives designed to retain students. They must, however, give half of those funds to those with the greatest need.

The following is a breakdown of what each state has received under the American Rescue Plan and in HEERF funding:

State                     ARP                        HEERF

Alabama              $805 million       $1.54 billion

Alaska                  $42.3 million       $83 million

Arizona                $717 million        $1.48 billion

Arkansas             $413 million       $793 million

California            $5.29 billion      $10.2 billion

Colorado             $518 million        $1 billion

Connecticut        $380 million      $755.3 million

Delaware             $123 million       $241.3 million

Florida                 $2.41 billion       $4,64 billion

Georgia                $1.42 billion       $2.72 billion

Hawaii                  $143 million       $297 million

Idaho                    $207 million       $385.7 million

Illinois                  $1.32 billion       $2.56 billion

Indiana                 $715 million       $1.39 billion

Iowa                      $375 million       $712.2 million

Kansas                 $347 million       $654 million

Kentucky              $496 million      $953 million

Louisiana             $697 million       $1.34 billion

Maine                    $126 million        $243 million

Maryland               $651 million      $1.27 billion

Massachusetts     $847 million     $1.63 billion

Michigan               $1.06 billion      $2.05 billion

Minnesota             $568 million      $1.09 billion

Mississippi           $576 million      $1.12 billion

Missouri               $670 million      $1.29 billion

Montana               $122 million      $234 million

Nebraska              $218 million      $412 million

Nevada                 $214 million      $412.3 million

New Hampshire    $166 million     $305.5 million

New Jersey           $944 million     $1.84 billion

New Mexico          $245 million     $462.7 million

New York               $2.76 billion     $5.33 billion

North Carolina      $1.32 billion     $2.56 billion

North Dakota        $95.8 million    $178.4 million

Ohio                       $1.18 billion    $2.3 billion

Oklahoma              $456 million    $914 million

Oregon                   $417 million    $794.1 million

Pennsylvania         $1.36 billion    $2.68 billion

Rhode Island         $185 million     $357 million

South Carolina      $605 million     $1.16 billion

South Dakota        $95.9 million    $186.5 million

Tennessee             $824 million     $1.57 billion

Texas                     $3.44 billion     $6.6 billion

Utah                       $506 million     $948.5 million

Vermont                 $66.4 million    $128.2 million

Virginia                  $951 million     $1.85 billion

Washington           $680 million     $1.32 billion

West Virginia         $213 million     $417.1 million

Wisconsin              $580 million    $1.1 billion

Wyoming                $44.6 million   $83.5 million

DC                         $187 million    $376.4 million

Puerto Rico           $787 million   $1.61 billion

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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