September 03, 2021

How COVID-19 Relief Continued to Support Higher Education

The U.S. has disbursed trillions to assist Americans in withstanding the negative impacts of COVID-19. Within this relief aid, America has allocated upwards of $1.59 trillion in student debt during this irregular time. Countless graduates crippled by overwhelming student debt coupled with academic institutions struggling post-pandemic have led Congress to increase emergency funding for the education system. The funding targets suffering universities and graduates who will go on to join the 21st-century labor force. This budget package is one of the numerous programs implemented to support higher education, totaling $85 billion as of August 2021.

In early 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly known as the CARES Act, was passed by Congress to soften the anticipated burden on the economy. Within this $2.2 trillion bill, approximately $14 billion was designated to the Office of Postsecondary Education in the form of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). In May, the Education Department designated $36 billion to more than 5,000 colleges and universities with the aim of bolstering schools that serve students and families hit hardest by the pandemic. Under the HEERF, an additional $3.2 billion was delegated to support students and provide resources to help institutions recover from the impacts of the pandemic in July of 2021. Of these funds, $2.97 billion provide aid to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.

REMI recently held a webinar discussion, “Universities’ Economic and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impacts,” that explores how continued support of academic institutions and their consequent contributions to the broad-based prosperity of their regional economies can be measured through economic modeling. REMI-SEI quantifies how universities are building a more diverse workforce and equitable future. You can learn more about this presentation by clicking here.

Congress has also dispersed loan relief extensions, in addition to cancellations, of student loan debt. In August 2021, the Biden administration bolstered this commitment by extending the student loan payments grace period through January 31, 2022. This extension offers many students a much-needed suspension on paying their federal student loans without penalties or added interest. In August, Congress also canceled an additional $5.8 billion of student loans to graduates whose permanent disability prevents them from earning income.

As a result of this federal funding, students, graduates, and collegiate institutions are getting the government assistance they need. The potential need for continued federal support has been recognized by Congress and is being assessed to help those in need of immediate assistance, furthering allowing the higher education system to prosper during the pandemic.

To learn more about the CARES act, please click here. You can also click here to learn more about the $36 billion that was received from the U.S. Department of Education.

To find out more about the $3.2 billion under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), click here.

Additional information regarding the $8.7 billion canceled student loans debt can be accessed by clicking here.