Legislative Update: Biden Stimulus Proposal and Relief Funding Available from ED

President-elect Joe Biden shared a new COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus proposal. Read below to learn more about how education is included in that bill, as well as additional information on availability of funds for the latest relief package that was signed into law. 

Biden Shares New Stimulus Proposal

On Thursday evening President-elect Joe Biden shared a proposal for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. This would include $170 billion for K-12 and higher education to support Biden’s goal of “safely reopening a majority of K-8 schools in the first 100 days” of his presidency. That amount is broken down in the following way:

  • $130 billion would go to elementary and secondary education for safe reopening of schools and additional supports. This funding can be used for activities such as reducing class sizes, modifying spaces to allow for social distancing, closing the digital divide and hiring counselors to support students as they transition between remote and in-person learning. A portion of this funding must also go to students in low-income areas that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, as well as to a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant that will go to state, local and tribal governments to partner with stakeholders.  
  • $35 billion would go to expanding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. This funding will be designated to public institutions, as well as public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This money can support distance learning, ensuring colleges have the resources and protocols necessary since the pandemic and providing emergency grants to students. 
  • $5 billion would be for a Hardest Hit Education Fund, that will go to governors to disperse to the students most significantly impacted by the pandemic across early childhood education, K-12 and higher education. 

The full legislative text has not been released yet. Advance CTE will share additional information as it becomes available.  

ED Provides More Information on COVID-19 Relief 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has continued to make funding available for the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) that was passed at the end of December. As a reminder, the bill included close to $82 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, comprised of $53 billion for the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and $4.1 billion for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. 

On Thursday, ED announced that $21.2 billion for the HEERF is now available. Of that amount, $20.5 billion is for public and non-profit colleges and universities, and $681 million is for proprietary schools. Public and non-profit schools can use this funding for activities such as student supports, technology costs and faculty trainings. Proprietary schools can use this funding to provide financial aid grants to students. If an application was submitted by an institution for the HEERF through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, no additional application needs to be completed. More information can be found here

ED also announced the availability of GEER funding. Of the GEER Fund, $2.75 billion is designated for the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) award, with the rest going to supplemental GEER awards. The EANS funding can be used to safely reopen schools, address learning loss and continue instruction. EANS awards will be allocated to each governor based on the state’s share of low-income school-age youth enrolled in non-public schools. ED shared that after governors submit an EANS application they can expect a response within 24 hours. The GEER awards will be allocated based on the formula used in the CARES Act. Additional information can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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