The US Department of Education has awarded the final $198 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants to 244 colleges and universities, providing additional financial support to help these institutions and their students recover from the multiple effects of the pandemic.
This new tranche of funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed by President Biden in March 2021, is the last installment of the almost $40 billion in relief funds that went to American colleges and universities under ARP. HEERF was funded by Congress three times during the pandemic to the total tune of more than $76 billion. The American Rescue Plan was the last of the three federal funding bills.
According to the Department, these recent grants were awarded to public and private non-profit colleges and universities “that have the greatest unmet needs, including community colleges and rural institutions that serve a high percentage of diverse student populations and low-income students, and those that have experienced enrollment declines since the start of the pandemic, among other categories.”
Almost 90% of these funds will go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, rural institutions, and institutions serving large populations of low-income students. Most of the recipient institutions will be required to distribute about half of their grant funds directly to students with the greatest need, providing additional support for housing, tuition, food, and other basic needs.
“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 US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in the Department’s release. “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.”
Institutions in California received the most funds of any state in this latest round, totaling $5.3 million. The rest of the top five states were Texas ($3.4 million), New York ($2.7 million), Florida ($2.4 million) and Georgia ($1.4 million).
Total American Rescue Plan investments by the Biden administration now total more than $10 billion to community colleges, over $2.6 billion to HBCUs, approximately $190 million to TCUs, and more than $13 billion to MSIs such as Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. Total ARP funds more than doubled the higher education grants that were made available under previous pandemic relief bills for higher education.
The Department indicated that a full list of institutions that received grants will be made available here.