U.S. Department of Education releases CARES funds to Higher Education Institutions for student emergency grants

On Thursday, April 9, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that more than $6 billion would be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students who have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The funds, which are a part of the nearly $31 billion Congress allocated to education institutions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are available to colleges and universities in the form of cash grants that will be distributed to students in order to cover costs such as course materials, food, housing, health care, and childcare. After certifying that it will distribute the funds in accordance with applicable law, each college or university will develop its own system to determine which students will receive the cash grants. The amount allocated to eligible schools is determined by a formula with the most influential factor being the number of full-time students who are Pell-eligible. Other factors include the total population of the school. 

According to U.S. Department of Education formula allocations, the total amount allocated to the University of Oregon is $16,095,946, with $8,047,973 of that being the minimum allocation to be awarded for emergency financial aid grants to students. The $16 million allocated to the UO is part of the $116.4 million that Oregon public and private universities and community colleges will receive at large. The full methodology for calculating allocations can be found here.

The CARES Act emergency spending bill was passed by Congress and signed into law March 27 and includes approximately $2 trillion to address the impact of COVID-19. Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley took the lead in make sure financial support for college students and the universities and colleges they attend be included.

UO President Michael H. Schill said of the CARES allocation, “This funding is extremely important to our students and the University of Oregon. It will help as we make difficult decisions on how to manage huge revenue losses and new costs.” President Schill also expressed his gratitude to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who Schill says was the first elected official to reach out to him at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. “He immediately understood that both students and the institutions themselves needed help. He is a hero for his leading role in shaping this legislation.”

The full U.S. Department of Education press release can be found here.