May 1, 2023
Presented by The Coalition to Advance Future Student Success
CLOCK TICKS ON COLLEGE COVID RELIEF DOLLARS: The Biden administration as soon as this week could begin accepting requests from colleges for extra time to spend their share of federal Covid relief dollars. Ahead of a looming June 30 deadline for colleges to spend the money, the Education Department is setting up a new process for colleges to ask for a one-year extension of the time period to use their remaining Covid relief dollars.
— The vast majority of the more than $75 billion in relief money that the federal government doled out to colleges during the pandemic has already been spent. But about 6 percent of higher education relief dollars remain unspent, according to the Education Department.
— More than 700 colleges each have more than $1 million of unspent relief money, department officials wrote in a filing with the White House Office of Management and Budget last month.
— “The number of colleges with funds remaining decreases each week as institutions continue to spend down the much-needed emergency relief funds ahead of the current deadline,” a department spokesperson said.
— The remaining money is mostly funds that colleges are able to use for a wide range of institutional purposes, such as purchasing technology or replacing revenue lost because of the pandemic. Nearly all — 99 percent — of the relief money that Congress required colleges to spend on emergency financial aid grants to students has already been spent, according to the department.
— Jon Fansmith, senior vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education, said that some colleges have unspent money because they are paying for services on an ongoing basis, such as a contract to pay for telehealth mental health services. In other cases, he said, colleges made specific plans to spend the money but haven’t yet finalized the transaction for a wide range of reasons, such as supply chain issues or other logistical challenges.