NAICU Washington Update

Final HEERF Funding Available

February 04, 2022

The final $198 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is now available to colleges and universities, the Department of Education announced this week. Deadline to apply for the funds is April 4, 2022. 

The Education Department also announced an extension of the deadline for institutions to apply for funding under ARP. Institutions that are eligible for funding have until March 7 to submit their Certification and Agreement forms and any other associated data submissions.

The $198 million in Supplemental Support under American Rescue Plan (SSARP) funds, also referred to as “(a)(3),” are intended to help institutions that did not otherwise receive funds from various HEERF student and institutional allocations, but were otherwise eligible. Funding for many institutions’ got caught in red tape and were never received by the schools. The remainder of the $198 million will be made available through a competitive grant process to community colleges and institutions that serve rural, low-income students and institutions that serve predominantly graduate students. 

Institutions are encouraged to use SSARP funds for coronavirus mitigation on campus; student basic needs; support for student enrollment and re-enrollment; forgiveness of institutional debt and to end transcript withholding; and expanding programs that lead to in-demand higher quality jobs. 

The Education Department outlined five priority areas for making grants. Institutions should apply for funds under one or more of these categories, with specific explanations about how the grant funding would meet those priorities. The categories are:
  1. Underfunded HEERF (a)(1) grantees due to technical errors, application issues or not reporting in IPEDS
  2. Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI) or Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grantees that were underfunded due to technical errors, application issues, are newly eligible institutions, or are a branch campus.
  3. Underfunded HEERF (a)(1) grantees due to an institutional merger or change in Program Participation Agreement.
  4. Community colleges and rural institutions of higher education serving a high percentage of low-income students and experiencing enrollment declines. 
  5. Eligible institutions with 90% or more graduate student enrollment according to fall 2020 data in IPEDS. 
For the purposes of Priority 4, community college is defined as in Section 101 of the Higher Education Act; and rural is defined by referencing campus settings in College Navigator, such as town-fringe, town-distant, town-remote, rural-fringe, rural-distant, and rural-remote. To be eligible under Priority 4, such institutions must have at least 50% Pell Grant recipients, and a 4.5% or greater decline in student enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2020. Both of these definitions include private, nonprofit colleges. 

Institutions that receive awards under Priority 4 must use at least 50% of the grant for emergency financial aid grants to students, as outlined in (a)(1) of ARP. 

Under Priority 5, institutions with predominantly graduate students must use SSARP awards entirely for emergency financial aid grants to graduate students. This category also includes private, nonprofit colleges. 

In addition to the funding opportunity in SSARP, the Education Department is extending the deadline for institutions to apply for funding under ARP. Eligible institutions are those that appear on the published allocation tables for ARP (a)(1), (a)(2) SIP and MSI, and ARP (a)(4) funding. Institutions have until March 7 to submit their application materials. 

Please note that this is not new funding for COVID-19 but simply an extension of existing funding opportunities in ARP for those institutions that have not yet submitted an application. Institutions that are not included on the ARP(a)(1) and (a)(2) allocation tables, but that are eligible institutions, may apply under the Supplemental Support Under the American Rescue Plan (SSARP) funding opportunity.

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