Washington Watch: Apply for CARES Act grants by August 1

U.S. Education Department (Photo: AACC)

Colleges have until August 1 to apply for grants through the CARES Act’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).  

After that deadline, the U.S. Education Department (ED) has announced that it plans to “recalculate and redistribute any reserved or unclaimed funds” from HEERF. This includes the student aid and institutional portions, as well as HEERF funding for historically black colleges and universities, tribally controlled colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, the Strengthening Institutions Program and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

ED’s deadline applies to colleges’ requests to draw down the funds, not their disbursement to students or institutions. Colleges have until September 30, 2022, to disburse the funds, according to ED guidelines.

Colleges should refer to the department’s CARES Act website for information about the application process for HEERF funding. 

A call for advocacy

Meanwhile, ED continues to issue more CARES Act guidance, including reporting requirements. Final regulations that went into effect on June 17 direct how colleges and universities should determine student eligibility for the HEERF emergency financial aid grants.

Last week, court cases in California and Washington state provided injunctive relief in those states from certain regulatory provisions.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) continues to support changes to the CARES Act student emergency grants statutory language through the next stimulus bill, but congressional action is not expected until late July. It is possible that, with enough action by AACC members, more accommodating and retroactive language could be adopted, though at that point ED will have awarded much of grant funds.

AACC remains grateful for the support that Congress provided in the CARES Act for students affected by the pandemic and hopes to secure more funding for colleges and students in the next bill.

About the Author

Laurie Quarles
is a legislative resource associate at the American Association of Community Colleges.