Ed Dept releases more than $21B in coronavirus relief for colleges

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • ON THURSDAY, the U.S. Department of Education released more than $21 billion in coronavirus relief money to colleges, funded by the rescue package Congress passed last month.
  • Each colleges’ cut of funding must be split between institutional costs associated with the pandemic and direct aid for students.
  • Higher education groups and institutions have clamored for months for the federal government to provide more relief as the pandemic’s financial impact intensified.

Dive Insight:

Congress hammered out the overall $900 billion deal in December, roughly nine months after approving the first round of funding. The new money was briefly imperiled when President Donald Trump unexpectedly declined to sign the measure, though he eventually did so.


The relief legislation provides about $23 billion for colleges, with some set-asides such as minority-serving institutions. It also gives $681 million to for-profit colleges.

The first aid bill — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act — determined colleges’ allocations based on their full-time-equivalent enrollment, weighted heavily toward how many students receive federal Pell Grants, a proxy for campus poverty.

However, the formula in the latest bill also considers headcount, opening the door for community colleges, which enroll many part-time students, to receive more money.

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