NAICU Washington Update

Updated Resources on HEERF Funds Available

October 16, 2020

The Department of Education recently hosted a webinar regarding the use of funds and reporting requirements for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding provided by the CARES Act. The Department also updated both its Reporting and Data Collection webpage, which now includes an easy-to-read reference table summarizing the reporting requirements by the type of grant funds received, and its CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions.
The webinar covered two broad topics, use of funds and institutional reporting requirements.
Use of Funds
Deputy Undersecretary Diane Jones gave multiple examples of how the institutional portion of funds can be used to cover costs related to the change in delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus, even if they are incremental costs and above and beyond what would normally be paid because of coronavirus. 
Examples that Jones provided regarding the acceptable use of funds included: hiring more faculty to socially distance students in a classroom or providing more virtual sections of a course; doubling the cleaning staff to disinfect spaces more often; covering the cost of running a dorm at a lower density because of the need to have fewer students in housing; renting apartments to provide more housing availability to students; renting hotel rooms for quarantine purposes; and additional emergency grants to students. While institutional funds cannot be used to cover the loss of general revenue, they can be used to cover new costs due to the pandemic.
Funds from the Minority-Serving Institutions and FIPSE portions of relief aid can be used for lost revenue, which the Department recently indicated can include cuts to state appropriations for colleges.
Jones reiterated that the student portion of funds were intended to be used quickly for immediate assistance, and strongly encouraged institutions to draw down the funds. The Department posted its first report on use of student funds, which will be updated as more information is collected. A report on use of institutional funds will be posted after the first deadline of October 30, which will cover use of funds through September 30.
Institutional Reporting Requirements
Jones and her team made clear that both student and institutional use of funds reports should be posted either on the homepage of an institution’s website or on a “dedicated CARES Act webpage,” so that information is readily available to the public. Quarterly reports should be based on funds used only during the quarter, not cumulative spending reports.  Once an institution has spent all of its all funds, reports should be marked “final.” The first quarterly report is due October 30, 2020, with subsequent reports due on January 10, April 10, July 10, and October 10 of 2021.
In other news from the Department, the CARES Act website has been restructured to display a better organization of the information colleges need for grants and reporting, including an updated version of its Frequently Asked Questions.

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