President Trump signed H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, into law on December 27. The $2.3 trillion package includes $900 billion for COVID relief and $1.4 trillion to fund the government through September 30, 2021. The package also contains numerous policy provisions of interest to APLU institutions, including the FAFSA Simplification Act, restoration of Pell Grants for incarcerated students, relief for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through the forgiveness of existing HBCU Capital Financing Loans, Energy Act of 2020, provisions creating a new process for adjudication of copyright infringement claims, tax extenders, and guidance for international students related to COVID-19. APLU President McPherson issued a statement on the package, praising added relief but calling it far short of what is needed.
APLU developed detailed analyses of the COVID relief bill, FY2021 omnibus, and the FAFSA Simplification Act. Additionally, APLU’s Office of Data and Policy Analysis generated a data tool with projections of funding by institution. This is our best estimate as to how the funds will be distributed. The Department of Education is expected to soon provide official allocation levels and guidance.
APLU continues to engage congressional leaders and the incoming administration on the importance of additional COVID-19 supplemental relief to address losses and expenses incurred by institutions of higher education as a result of the pandemic.
ED Announces GEER Funding Allocations
Last week, the Department of Education (ED) announced the Governors Education Emergency Relief (GEER) funding allocations for states, totaling $4.05 billion, included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. The Department used more recent data to calculate the distribution of GEER funds: the 2019 level of residents state-level ages 5 to 24 resident population data that the U.S. Census Bureau released in June 2020, and the Title I, Part A formula count from the fiscal year 2021 preliminary Title I, Part A allocations. The change has had a noticeable impact on the distribution of the second round of GEER allocations.
In addition to providing the overall funding level for each state, the allocation table also includes the portion each state must set aside for Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) grants as well as the remaining portion available for public schools (GEER II). The COVID relief bill includes a provision that $2.75 billion be set aside for “non-public schools.” This provision helped settle a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on funding private schools. Unfortunately, while total funding for states increased, the set-aside for public education was lower.
APLU will share additional information about Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) allocations and guidance on use of funds as available from ED.