DOE releases information for the Institutional Portion of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a communication announcing the release of information and funding available for the second half of formula grants to Institutions of Higher Education authorized by Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, also known as the funds for “Recipient’s Institutional Costs.”  Access to this letter as well as additional information on how to apply for the grants provided by the CARES Act for Institutions can be found here.

Here are a few key highlights noted from this announcement:

  • Institutions must have entered into the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students in order to receive funds for Recipient’s Institutional Costs.
  • In order to receive funds for Recipient’s Institutional Costs, Institutions must complete a second application and submit via grants.gov.  This application is referred to as the Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for the Institutional Portion of the Higher Education Emergency Relieve Fund (HEERF).
  • Once the application has been received and verified by the Department of Education, funds will be available for draw down through the G5 system.
  • Further instructions will be published within the Federal Register to provide instructions to Institutions on reporting requirements on the use of these funds.  The Department of Education encourages Institutions to keep detailed records of how all funds received under HEERF are expended.

Funds can be used for the following costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Expansion of remote learning programs through expenditures building IT capacity and training faculty and staff on effective remote learning.
  • Reimbursement for purchases of technology made to provide to students on or after March 13, 2020, the date of the proclamation of a national emergency, to aid in the transition of remote learning due to coronavirus.
  • Support of students with the most significant financial needs, through emergency financial aid, arising from the coronavirus pandemic and disruptions of campus operations, such as course materials, technology, health care, childcare, food and housing.  Note that those students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs on March 13, 2020 are not eligible for emergency financial aid grants.
  • Reimbursements to institutions that have made refunds to students for charges refunded on or after March 13, 2020, the date of the proclamation of a national emergency, if those refunds were necessitated by significant changes to the delivery of instruction, including interruptions in instruction, due to the coronavirus.
  • Institutions may use the funds to pay a per-student fee to a third-party service provider for each additional student using the distance learning platform, learning management system, online resources, or other support services.  However, the funds cannot be used for third-party recruiters or recruiting activities to enroll new students.

The Department of Education has posted a list of frequently asked questions relating to this second portion of funding.  Additionally, the Higher Education Industry Group here at Schneider Downs is ready and available to help you through your questions and concerns, and we will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available and changes occur.

Please visit our Coronavirus resource page at schneiderdowns.com/our-thoughts-on/category/Coronavirus for related content.

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