Education Department Emergency Aid Coming to Students Next Week, Institutional Assistance Coming Soon
April 10, 2020

The Department of Education (ED) announced the first phase of distributing the roughly $14 billion for higher education institutions and students included in the CARES Act, the stimulus bill signed into law March 27.

ACE President Ted Mitchell has noted that the amount of money was inadequate to support student needs such as housing, technology assistance for online learning, or travel, and to support institutions that are losing staggering sums after closing for safety reasons and refunding or forgoing tuition, room and board, and other auxiliary revenues. (Click here to see the request for nearly $47 billion in assistance for higher education students and institutions in the next COVID-19 supplemental package.)

But ACE and other associations also asked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to distribute the money quickly, and this ED plan does that. With all the other obligations ED has had to undertake during the crisis, this timeline is good news for students and institutions, and ED has worked hard to make it happen.

A preliminary examination of the details indicates:

  • Some $6 billion will be available immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to students, including paying for things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care, and childcare.
  • To access the funds, ED must receive a signed certification from institutions affirming they will distribute the funds in accordance with applicable law. The college or university will then determine which students will receive the cash grants and in what amounts.
  • Congress directed ED to use its existing Pell payment system to distribute the funds to campuses. ED released a document with the allocation available to each institutions. ACE prepared a similar, searchable simulation of what individual institutions would receive that is relatively close to ED's official allocations.

Institutional allocations and guidance will be released in the near future, most likely within a few weeks. Colleges and universities will be able to use these funds “to cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus."