Students Top Priority, DeVos Says as Colleges Get Aid Allocated

April 9, 2020, 7:26 PM

Students should come first as colleges are getting answers on how many dollars each will receive from $6 billion in student assistance included in the coronavirus relief stimulus, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.

“We hope and expect institutions will prioritize students most in need and that that’s where funds get directed to,” DeVos said in a call with reporters Thursday. Immediate funding for student assistance grants will have priority, she said.

Her department is giving colleges discretion on how to disburse the emergency assistance to students, she said. The $2 trillion CARES Act (Public Law 116-136), enacted last month, includes $6 billion for students as part of the $14 billion for colleges and universities.

Colleges nationwide face immediate budget crises as the coronavirus pandemic forced campuses to close. Student refunds for room and board, cleaning costs, and the cost of online instruction all contribute to the cash crunch. DeVos, over the last week, has come under pressure from college lobby groups and the National Governors Association, to speed up delivery of the aid.

BGOV Bill Summary: Senate-Passed H.R. 748, Virus Funding

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Colleges will be required to submit certificates of agreement to the department but will be allowed to devise their own systems to get aid as long as it covers expenses related to campus closures, such as food, housing, technology, or health care.

DeVos said more information will follow in coming weeks on direct assistance to colleges themselves as well as $13.5 billion for K-12 schools. When students receive emergency grants will depend on how quickly colleges disburse the funds, she said.

Some institutions will receive as little as a few thousand dollars while the largest institutions such as Ohio State University, with more than $21.4 million, will receive millions of dollars in student assistance in the allocation of CARES Act money released by the department.

“They’re intended to help students now, not months from now,” DeVos said. “It’s our hope and expectation that institutions will take that responsibility seriously.”

For-Profit Colleges

This week, Senate Democrats asked DeVos to exclude for-profit colleges from emergency relief provided by the CARES Act or at least place restrictions on how for-profits could use the money.

The funding allocation released by the Education Department Thursday included a number of for-profit colleges. DeVos said that the student grants “are going to institutions across the country of every variety.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum at akreighbaum@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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