How Schools Spent Additional Covid-Aid Cash on Their College students

How Schools Spent Additional Covid-Aid Cash on Their College students


During the peak of the pandemic, many college students struggled to navigate obstacles — like emotional stress, well being considerations, and monetary troubles — that made it tough to remain enrolled in school.

How schools spent billions in federal reduction.

Via the Increased Schooling Emergency Aid Fund, or Heerf, the federal authorities made $30 billion in pandemic-relief support accessible to high schools particularly to distribute to their college students. Heerf additionally gave schools a separate bucket of cash they may select to spend on different functions, like recovering misplaced income. That bucket is known as “institutional” funds or spending. Many schools selected to direct a few of these institutional funds towards college students in disaster as nicely. A Chronicle evaluation of the kinds schools filed to doc their Heerf spending reveals how schools spent their institutional cash on college students, and to what diploma.

In 2021, for instance, Heerf cash for private and non-private nonprofit schools offered greater than $16 billion in student-directed funds. That yr, the universities allotted almost $1.7 billion of their institutional funds to scholar support within the type of emergency grants and to clear the excellent balances that college students owed them.

The March 2021 laws that produced the third spherical of Heerf cash paved the best way for schools to make use of federal reduction support to clear balances from scholar accounts. Schools might award emergency grants to college students after which — with the scholars’ permission — use the cash to erase their balances. Or the establishments might wipe away scholar debt after which reimburse themselves with Heerf cash. Schools overwhelmingly selected the latter.

In 2020 and 2021, schools spent $4.9 billion in institutional funds on scholar support. Almost two-thirds, or greater than $3 billion, of that cash went to clearing college students’ excellent balances owed to their establishments (however not cash owed on non-public or federal loans). That cash — settling excellent balances — was the second-largest class of institutional cash after misplaced income, as we famous in our earlier evaluation. Emergency grant support was the fourth-largest class of institutional spending, at $1.8 billion.

Our evaluation exhibits that just about each sort of school spent not less than 20 p.c of its institutional funds on emergency support for college kids or clearing college students’ balances.

The quantity of institutional cash the three,031 schools in our evaluation spent on emergency grants assorted broadly. Twenty-six schools allotted greater than $10 million every of their institutional funds for emergency monetary support, whereas almost 1,300 allotted no institutional funds in any respect. The common expenditure for the 1,741 establishments that gave any funds on this class was simply over $1 million.

For scholar support within the type of satisfying scholar accounts, or scholar reimbursement, the highest 47 schools every gave greater than $10 million, whereas 965 didn’t give any on this class. The common quantity for the two,066 schools that gave on this class was simply over $1.5 million.


Besides the place indicated, knowledge is for the institutional portion of Heerf funds allotted to high schools for 2020 and 2021. Solely degree-granting private and non-private nonprofit establishments are included on this evaluation. Institutional-portion funds embody a(2), a(3), and a(4) funds, that are allotted to high schools just for particular standards. A(2) funds, for instance, are offered to traditionally Black schools, minority-serving establishments, and tribal schools. Groupings are primarily based on 2021 Carnegie Classifications of Establishments of Increased Schooling’s primary classes. “Different” consists of affiliate/baccalaureate schools, special-focus four-year schools, special-focus two-year schools, tribal schools, and unclassified establishments.


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