Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund: Applying for the Institutional Portion

By David B. McClintock, CPA | April 22, 2020

As part of the continuing effort to provide relief to a higher education system that was rocked by COVID-19, the Department of Education (ED) has released information on how to apply for the institutional portion of the emergency funds provided the CARES Act.

Institutions are able to use up to 50 percent of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants for institutional costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. This portion is separate from the funds meant to assist students who had their education disturbed by the pandemic, and institutions can only submit for the institutional portion after applying for the student funding.

ED has updated its page on the HEERF, providing useful information on the institution portion, including:

  • Cover letter from Secretary of Education Betsy Devos
  • Guidance on how to apply for funding in grants.gov, along with visual aids
  • CARES HEERF Certification and Agreement form
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Institutional Portion of HEERF

In the Secretary’s letter on the institutional funds, she recommended using the assistance to expand remote learning programs, IT capacity, employee training for working in a remote learning environment, among other suggestions for the weeks and months to come. Notably, based on the Secretary’s letter, the FAQ and a briefing hosted April 21 by senior ED officials, the funds do not cover costs for payments to contractors for the provision of pre-enrollment activities (including marketing and advertising), endowments, executive compensation, stock buybacks and shareholder distributions, or capital outlays associated with facilities related to athletics, sectarian instruction or religious worship.

For additional information and assistance, feel free reach out to McClintock & Associates.

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