The CARES Act (the coronavirus stimulus package approved by Congress last month) includes approximately $14 billion in grants to colleges and universities, with about $12.5 billion of that being distributed broadly across the higher education landscape and the remainder targeting minority-serving institutions. The CARES Act requires that half of the funding a school receives be dedicated to emergency student aid, specifically to “provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care, and childcare.” These funds are expected to be disbursed imminently. While schools are required to affirm that they will distribute funds in accordance with the law in order to receive these grants, it is up to the school to disburse them including determining who gets how much. The formula is weighted by the percentage of full-time students who are eligible for Pell Grants. Students whose financial situation has changed over the past month would do well to reach out to their school to learn what types of relief they may be eligible for.

The balance is available for institutions to “cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.”

To see how much your school (or schools you are interested in) will receive, visit this searchable table.

Note that this initial grant is targeted at colleges’ and students’ immediate needs. Given the significant economic trauma we will continue to experience as the course of COVID and the recovery play out, it’s likely that additional funds will be needed to ensure students’ ongoing access to education. If your situation has changed, do be sure to appeal your financial aid award. This is something you can do at any point in your college journey; it is not limited to incoming students.

While I’m here, I want to extend a huge thank you to all the faculty and staff who are going so far above and beyond the normal scope of their responsibilities to support students during this time. In addition to adapting their courses for online delivery, we’re seeing many professors offer multiple daily live sessions of their classes to accommodate students in different time zones, extending office hours and one-on-one tutoring to ensure students are mastering material without direct access, connecting students with technology and other grants, moving internships online, and providing other creative solutions to give students the best possible chance to succeed during this time.