American Rescue Plan Earmarks $40 Billion for Higher Education

On March 11, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that brings another $40 billion to higher education. This is on top of the approximately $14 billion that was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES Act) and the $21.2B that was included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA).

This latest round of funding will be available to institutions be used through September 30, 2023 in a manner similar to the CARES Act. The new bill once again appears to mandate the use of Pell grants for the determination of the funding allocation, but also has a new requirement to prioritize institutions with endowments of $1 million or less. It also includes a new directive that institutions, “implement evidence-based practices to monitor and suppress [the] coronavirus in accordance with public health guidelines.” The Department of Education (DOE) will need to clarify the intent of how institutions will be able to implement this.

The bill also notes that, “50 percent of such allocation [should] provide emergency financial aid to students,” which is consistent to the stipulations of the CARES Act. Once again, students with extreme need are to be prioritized, and institutions will be required to “conduct direct outreach to financial aid applicants about the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or independent student, or other circumstances.” With the passing of the CRRSSA, the DOE signaled that it will introduce a reporting requirement that will monitor that this is occurring.

While this supplementary funding is welcome to higher ed institutions, there’s still additional needed clarification on a variety of topics and further interpretation of the new legislation. Schneider Downs will continue to monitor and post updates as more information becomes available. For additional information, please check our American Rescue Plan Act resource page for additional information.

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