March 27, 2020

Congress approves emergency spending bill, with nearly $14 billion for higher education, $214.52 million for Hispanic-Serving Institutions

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748), which provides $2 trillion in emergency relief to address some of the worst effects of the economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act was passed by the Senate earlier in the week and is now headed to the President’s desk for final signature.

The bill provides $30.75 billion to the U.S. Department of Education for an “Education Stabilization Fund,” and allocates $13.95 billion for higher education. Below is a summary of the relevant funding opportunities for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Funding to HSIs – The bill allocates $214.53 million specifically for HSIs under Title V, which is based on the proportion of funding that HSIs were appropriated in FY 2020 discretionary funding.

Funding to states – The bill allocates $2.95 billion to states and will be distributed on a formula that factors in school age population, and the youth and young adult population. Eligible entities for the funding will include school districts and institutions of higher education. Governors have broad discretion to determine use of funds.

Formula funding to institutions of higher education – The bill allocates $12.56 billion directly to all institutions of higher education. The higher education funds will be allocated to institutions by formula using the student financial aid distribution system. The formula allocates 75 percent of the funds available (about $9.4 billion) based on the full-time equivalent enrollment of Pell Grant recipients. The remaining 25 percent (about $3.2 billion) is based on the full-time equivalent enrollment of students who did not receive a Pell Grant. 

Funding for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Program – The bill allocates $349 million for the FIPSE Program at the U.S. Department of Education for grants to institutions particularly impacted by coronavirus. Priority for these grants goes to smaller institutions who received less than $500,000 under the formula, MSIs, and institutions of higher education that still have significant unmet needs.

Additionally, the bill provides flexibility to HSIs by modifying the allowable uses in Title V, Parts A and B to allow institutions to use their funds to address unforeseen needs due to an emergency. This must come at the request of the HSI and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

“HACU is pleased that HSIs were allocated funding in the emergency spending bill,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “However, HSIs have been historically underfunded and only receive, on average, 68 cents for every federal dollar going to all other colleges and universities annually despite educating a disproportionately low-income and underrepresented student population. The $214.52 million is woefully inadequate for the unprecedented challenges that HSIs are facing and will continue to face in responding to the evolving coronavirus pandemic.”

“HACU will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the approved emergency funding is distributed to HSIs as soon as possible,” added Flores.  

Congress is expected to work on additional emergency funding legislation. HACU will remain engaged in this process.