Higher education is set to see nearly $40 billion in federal aid after the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill after a nearly 25-hour-long session that lasted through the night with the final decision coming Saturday morning.
With Democrats holding control of Congress and the First Lady holding education close to her heart and agenda. The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is expected to pass and make it to the President’s desk and in the hands of many struggling college students by mid-March.
This new round of emergency aid would include nearly $40 billion for higher education more than twice that of the March aid where universities received $14 billion and just under twice the amount universities saw with the initial aid package last march, the CARES Act allotted $22.7 billion to higher education.
“While this amount falls short of our most recent estimate of at least $97 billion in student and institutional needs,” he said, “it still represents the largest federal effort so far to assist students and families struggling to cope with lost jobs or reduced wages, and colleges and universities facing precipitous declines in revenues and soaring new expenses.” – Ted Mitchell, President of American Council on Education
The $40 billion is nowhere near the aid that was estimated by the American Council on Education, however as their President Ted Mitchell said during an interview with InsideHigherEd.com this is the biggest federal effort, one that many students are sure to benefit from.
Wording within the bill ensures that money allocated to schools is used in the best manner possible, meaning for-profit schools and institutions would need to use all their funding on their students. While nonprofit and public universities and colleges will need to allocate at least 50% of their federal aid back to their students. Currently, there are no limitations on which students may receive these funds that are allocated and intended to aid students directly.
How colleges and universities will be distributing the funds will mirror the last two federal aid packages, factoring in full-time/part-time enrollment numbers. Some other stipulations that are written within the bill according to HigherEdDive.com “Colleges that receive institutional aid must use part of that money to implement “evidence-based practices” meant to suppress the coronavirus and to conduct outreach to financial aid applicants about the possibility of adjusting how much they receive”
This aid comes almost a year exactly from the start of this global pandemic and during a time when many students should be considering graduation and their future, but are left struggling to maintain and make ends meet while completing their educational goals.