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Democrats propose $40B in higher education relief funding

Democrats propose $40B in higher education relief funding


Jeremy Bauer-Wolf

February 9, 2021

Dive Brief:

  • Colleges would receive nearly $40 billion in direct coronavirus aid in Democrats’ latest relief package, the largest single infusion of federal funding institutions have seen since the pandemic began.
  • Nonprofit and public colleges would need to devote at least half their cut of the funds to student grants. For-profit institutions would need to dedicate all the money they receive to students.
  • The nearly $2 trillion spending bill doesn’t limit which students can get relief money. The House education committee as of Tuesday evening was reviewing its section of the bill, which is expected to pass. The entire package would head to the Senate floor for an expedited vote after the House signs off.

Dive Insight:

The new rescue plan largely mirrors President Joe Biden’s initial proposal, with some tweaks. The president indicated shortly before taking office that he would earmark $35 billion for public colleges. The decision drew ire from private institutions, however.

That restriction didn’t make it into the latest version of the bill, which also restores funding to the wealthiest private colleges. The last spending measure, passed in December, curtailed how much they could receive. Former President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos railed against the prospect of them taking relief money.

The funding would be distributed through the same formula as the last big spending bill, which factored in headcount as well as full-time equivalent enrollment. The inclusion of the former enables colleges that enroll more part-time students to benefit.



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