Nearly one in two community college students received a grant through the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) in 2021, which was critical to keeping many of them enrolled during the Covid pandemic, according to a new report from the U.S. Education Department (ED).
Nearly 6 million community college students received direct financial aid through HEERF, with students getting an average grant of $1,290, according to an ED fact sheet on community colleges. More than nine in 10 (94%) of community colleges said that HEERF allowed them to keep students who were at risk of dropping out enrolled by providing financial support.
“The positive impact of the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments cannot be overstated, especially for students from the communities hit hardest by the pandemic, including our communities of color and low-income urban and rural communities,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a release.
The department added that 88% of community colleges stated that HEERF enabled them to keep students enrolled by providing them with computers and internet access, and more than half (51%) of community colleges spent $540 million on discharging unpaid student balances.
The department said it used required annual reports from participating higher institutions and 2022 spending to estimate the overall impact of HEERF funds. According to ED estimates, more than 18 million students have received direct financial aid under HEERF since the start of 2021.