NAICU Washington Update

Department of Education Provides Answers to Grant Program Questions

June 11, 2020

The Department of Education recently issued FAQs for non-CARES Act competitive grant programs administered by the Office of Postsecondary Education to address grantee concerns about how to function during the coronavirus pandemic.
The guidance relates to all Office of Postsecondary Education competitive grant programs, with a particular focus on TRIO, GEAR UP and GAANN.  For all programs, the department’s advice is to be flexible and innovative on administrative and programmatic issues. 
Related to administrative issues, the department says faculty, staff and students who are paid from grants should continue to be paid.  The FAQs also clarify that electronic signatures for paperwork are allowed and that a temporary waiver for prior approval requirements is also allowed.  Finally, the use of carryover funds to the next fiscal year will be taken into consideration by the department, depending on grantee circumstances.
For programmatic issues, grantees are encouraged to be innovative in providing services virtually within the allowable uses of funds.  Grantees will also be given flexibility on the use of funds to purchase technology to make virtual programs possible.  If virtual services are not possible, the department will work with grantees to review how to resume grant activities in the future.
TRIO program funding may be used to provide direct grants to students for basic needs, if the program includes a grant aspect, and TRIO programs are allowed to provide meals for participants.  According to the department, Upward Bound can continue providing stipends to students and McNair research programs can continue online if possible. GEAR UP programs are allowed to provide direct grants to students if the program has a scholarship component.
Participation in GAANN research programs that should have taken place in the spring of 2020 can be resumed in the future.

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