WASHINGTON — Colleges and universities across the nation can now start tapping into $36 billion in relief funding that Congress approved in March, the Biden administration announced Tuesday.
The U.S. Education Department said it’s starting to steer the funding to more than 5,000 public and private colleges. The funding was included in a $1.9 trillion relief package that also included $123 billion for K-12 schools.
The higher education aid is being allocated to public and private institutions using a formula that factors in the share of low-income students they enroll. Colleges must spend at least half the funding on direct relief for students. The other half can be used on a variety of expenses related to the pandemic.
In a reversal from Trump's policy, the Biden administration said student grants can be given to international students and those who are in the U.S. illegally.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the funding makes sure the hardest hit students “have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate and pursue their careers.”
Broadly, the guidance says colleges should use the funding to support vulnerable students, reduce the spread of the coronavirus and retain students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.