Congress Passes Emergency Funding for COVID-19 Crisis, Including Education

April 1, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It includes $12.56 billion to colleges, based mostly on their share of students with Pell grants. Colleges must use at least half (at least $6.28 billion) for direct emergency aid to students, including “grants to students for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.” Colleges can use the rest of the funding (up to $6.28 billion) broadly to “defray expenses for institutions of higher education, such as lost revenue, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education.” Update April 9, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Education has released the allocations, application process and guidance for institutions applying for these emergency funds here.

Congress is currently crafting a fourth COVID-19 stimulus recovery bill. In order to ensure that we receive direct aid to our programs in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill, we ask the TRIO community to stay in contact with their Congressional offices to convey the immediate needs of TRIO students and the ways your programs are best positioned to meet those needs in a timely manner. Our mission in the immediate future is to ensure that TRIO's request is included in the next COVID-19 recovery bill, which Congress could take up by the end of April. Our legislative requests have been re-tailored to the focus of this bill and are highlighted below.

We are asking Congress to:

  • Provide $250 million to increase TRIO capacity by 15% across all TRIO programs, translating into serving an additional 330,000 low-income, first-generation students, students with disabilities, veterans, and unemployed adults. Included in that figure is also a request for $32 million for EOC to increase program capacity by 50%, and $54 million for the Talent Search program to increase capacity by 25%.
  • Provide $200 million immediately to all TRIO programs for technology and Internet so students can complete coursework online and connect to support staff; and
  • Tighten broad waiver language in the COVID-19 Phase 3 legislation Congress passed last week, to prevent repurposing TRIO funds.

Click here Document is available for download (.pdf) to read the Council for Opportunity in Education’s detailed proposal for the COVID-19 Phase 4 bill.