The U.S. Education Department (ED) will soon begin accepting requests from colleges who need an extra year to spend remaining allotted funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) provided during the Covid pandemic. All HEERF grants are scheduled to expire on June 30.
Unlike last year, a “no-cost extension” (NCE) will not be automatic — institutions will need to justify their request to ED. Department officials wrote in a filing to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget that “just because a grantee has leftover funds does not entitle them to continue using them after the end of the grant project period.”
Of the more than $76 billion provided to institutions of higher education under the HEERF fund, according to ED the vast majority of it has already been spent. About 700 colleges have at least $1 million in remaining HEERF dollars to spend, comprising about 6% of the total amount awarded to colleges.
Colleges will need to email a completed request form to their HEERF program specialist by June 20. However, ED strongly encourages colleges to submit the form as soon as possible. (As of publication of this article, the form is not available. A link to it will appear on the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Community College Advocacy Update web page when it becomes available.)
Guidelines for requested extensions
Institutions may request a 12-month extension to expend institutional grant funds or a six-month extension to disburse student grant funds. For institutional grant NCE requests, colleges will need to provide a description of the reason for requesting the NCE; a budget narrative and timeline describing how the remaining balance will be spent; and an explanation of how the proposed expenditures relate to preparing, preventing and responding to Covid.
For student grant NCE requests, colleges will need to describe the barriers that prevented them from disbursing the funds during the initial grant period; a timeline for when the remaining funds will be distributed to students; how the grant amounts will be calculated; how students with exceptional need will be prioritized; and how the availability of emergency financial aid grants will be communicated to students.
Please contact the AACC government relations office if you have questions about submitting an NCE request.