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FAQ: HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions

Q. How does the set-aside to HBCUs and MSIs work?
A.  There is $1 billion available to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Strengthening Institutions Programs (SIPs) through the CARES Act.  There are 11 separately authorized programs under Title III and Title V of the HEA that provide assistance to these institutions. 
The Department of Education released these funds with guidance on how it is to be distributed on April 30, 2020.
The $1 billion allotment from the CARES Act is proportionately divided among the 11 programs based on the FY 2020 funding amounts for each program. Then, within each program, funds are allocated to institutions based on the same formula used for the student and institutional CARES funds (75 percent Pell FTE; 25 percent FTE). 
HBCUs and Tribal Colleges are eligible for their funds based on statutory definitions.
Eligibility for the six MSI categories is based on institutional eligibility for FY 2020 funding, NOT based on having received FY 2020 funding.  The Education Department’s “Minority Serving Institution Grant Eligibility Matrix” is being used to indicate the universe of eligible institutions that will get funding.
For the Strengthening Institutions Program funds, institutions are eligible to receive relief funds if they have a certain proportion of students with need in their student populations.
The Education Department released a spreadsheet to show all programs, institutions and amounts provided for HBCUs, MSIs and SIPs.  
Q.  When will the relief funds for MSIs and HBCUs be distributed?
A.  Funds became available April 30, 2020. Certification and Agreement forms must be submitted via before August 1, 2020, for institutions to receive funds.
Q. How can funds allocated for MSIs and HBCUs be used?
A.  According to the April 30 guidance from the Education Department, funds may be used to defray institutional expenses, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll.  The funds may also be used for grants to students for any component of the student’s cost of attendance (as defined under section 472 of the Higher Education Act), including tuition, course materials, and technology.
While it is not required that 50% of these funds be used on student grants, the department encourages institutions to use as much as possible on students, and to use funds to expand remote learning and build IT capacity.
Q.  Can MSI and HBCU funds be used for scholarships?
ADDED 7-8-20     A.  Yes. MSI funds can be used for student grants for “any component of a students’ cost of attendance,” which includes tuition and fees. Thus the Education Department interprets that these funds can be used for scholarships, not just emergencies. This is different than the student and institutional use of funds.
Q.  Can MSI and HBCU institutions advertise that they have "CARES scholarships"?
ADDED 7-8-20     A.  Yes. The MSI and HBCU funds do not have the same restrictions as the student and institutional funds under the CARES Act.

Print the FAQs:  CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions