Colleges can soon disburse some federal emergency cash grants to students affected by the coronavirus, after the Education Department on Thursday said it is immediately releasing $6.28 billion of the $14 billion allocated to higher education in the coronavirus stimulus package under the CARES Act.
Colleges and universities are required to utilize the funds to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to educational disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Expenses that qualify include, among other things, course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care and childcare, said the department in a statement. The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized under the CARES act, which was signed March 27.
“What’s best for students is at the center of every decision we make,” said DeVos. “That’s why we prioritized getting funding out the door quickly to college students who need it most. We don’t want unmet financial needs due to the coronavirus to derail their learning.”
To access the funds, higher education institutions must give the department a signed certification affirming they will distribute the funds in accordance with applicable law.
Last week, the American Council on Education (ACE) urged the department to swiftly distribute the CARES funds and also allow colleges flexibility in their further disbursal.
It is “critical for the Department to provide campuses with as much flexibility as possible for distributing these funds on campus, both for emergency grants to students and to help cover institutional refunds, expenses, and other lost revenues,” wrote ACE president Ted Mitchell in a letter to DeVos.