So close… We received some good news from Congress that will provide our campuses and students with much needed financial support. But we’re not over the goal line. At the time of this writing, President Trump has declared Congress should amend the bill.
The good news is that Congress passed the $900 billion “Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021” that includes nearly $23 billion for higher education, which is about $8 billion more than was in the original CARES Act last March. About $20 billion will be allocated directly to institutions, compared to $12 billion in the CARES Act. Of the remaining, $1.7 billion will go to HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), $681 million to for-profit institutions, and $113.5 million for institutions with exceptional unmet need and/or “large populations of graduate students.”
As in the CARES Act, the money is split between institutions and student grants. Importantly, this bill allows institutions to use their funds for such additional coronavirus-related items as lost revenue, financial aid and payroll costs. Campuses must use the same dollar amount for emergency student grants as they did in the original CARES Act, but, since total amount received by the campuses in this package will be higher, the proportion for emergency student aid will be less than half. And if institutions have not yet spent all their original CARES Act funding, they may use their remaining funds under the new terms in this bill.
The Governors Emergency Education Reserve (GEER) fund is increased by more than $1 billion, to $4.05 billion, with the stipulation that $2.75 billion be spent on non-public K-12 schools.
College students are also granted for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency Temporary Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility who are enrolled at least half-time and eligible for state or federal work study, or have a $0 EFC (expected family contribution per FAFSA calculation).
The bill contains another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, but the employee threshold was lowered to 300 employees and applicants need to show at least a 25% loss in gross receipts in one quarter since the pandemic began.
We deeply appreciate the support of our South Carolina congressional delegation in working to advance legislation that supports independent higher education in our state.
Now we must wait for the drama to play out between the president and Congress.
But since Christmas Eve is tomorrow, we’re passing along the news as it stands right now.