NAICU Washington Update

Report Recommends Increased Oversight of Institutions’ Use of Relief Funds

March 19, 2021

After its first review of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting Requirements (HEERF) from the CARES Act, the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recommended that the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), which is responsible for the HEERF program, increase its monitoring and oversight of reporting and institutional compliance.
The OIG reviewed a subset of institutions’ quarterly reports to see how they were complying with the CARES requirements. The report reviewed the data submitted for the institutional portion of funding for 100 colleges and universities, which included 20 institutions that received the highest amount of funding under the institutional portion, and a random sample of 80 institutions, consisting of 20 recipients randomly selected from public colleges, private, nonprofit colleges, for-profit colleges, and “other” institutions, which include independent school districts, non-profit organizations, state, county or local governments, and small businesses.
The report found that 19 of the 100 institutions reviewed did not publicly report their quarterly report, six of which were private colleges. From the 81 institutions that posted information, the report showed that the top three spending categories for private, nonprofit colleges were tuition reimbursement, campus safety and additional distance learning equipment. The bottom three spending categories were subsidized off-campus housing, subsidized food service, and additional class sections.
The OIG report looked at the data available on institutional funds spent by September 30, 2020 (passage of the bill was March 27, 2020), which were to be posted publicly on institutional websites by October 30, 2020.
OPE is currently hiring to staff a unit dedicated to monitoring the use of and reporting on HEERF grants and is also creating a publicly searchable database for the institutional portion of funds.  The reporting requirements for CARES Act funding are available on the Department’s website.  
Before drawing down CRRSAA HEERF II and American Rescue Plan HEERF III funds, colleges need to ensure that all required quarterly and annual reports for HEERF I funds awarded under the CARES Act have been submitted.

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