Education Department Releases $36 Billion in COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds
May 14, 2021

​The Department of Education this week announced more than $36 billion in emergency grants for nonprofit higher education institutions and students under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus package that Congress approved in March. ED also released a pool of money for emergency grants to students at for-profit institutions.  

The full distribution requirements for the $36 billion are outlined in this FAQ. Among the expected uses are emergency financial grants to support students with exceptional needs and the retention and reengagement of students, and to fund efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including vaccinations for students and campus communities.

This funding represents the largest federal effort so far to assist students and campuses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Institutions will be required to spend approximately half of the money on emergency grants to students.

The Biden administration clarified this week that Dreamers, other undocumented students, and international students will be eligible for ARP grants. The final rule on undocumented students was published in today’s Federal Register and covers funds in the ARP as well as the two earlier relief bills passed in 2020, the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. It goes into effect in 30 days.

“We applaud the Education Department for providing colleges and universities with the critical flexibility for emergency funds, including aid to all students regardless of citizenship status. This will benefit all institutions and tens of millions of students and families," said ACE President Ted Mitchell Tuesday on Twitter.

As in the previous relief bills, the ARP also provides additional support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority serving institutions and creates a grant program to address those institutions disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These funds will be distributed later through separate processes. ​

​COVID-19 Policy Developments

Learn more about the higher education association effort to urge Congress and the administration to craft a comprehensive response that addresses the challenges students and campuses are facing.

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