On this page, you'll find proposals for cuts or increases to the levels at which various student financial aid programs are funded through the federal budget process, outlined on NASFAA's overview of the Federal Budget Process. In addition, proposals to modify the budget process and new sources of federal funding for higher education or proposals for new federal student aid programs can be found on this page.
For student aid funding proposals from the previous session of Congress, visit the Legislative Tracker Archive: Student Aid Funding.
Sponsor: Sen. McConnel [R-KY]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The bill focuses largely on funding the United States Postal Service (USPS), continuing — though reduced — unemployment benefits, and providing liability protections for businesses, schools, and other institutions. Additionally the bill would provide an Education Stabilization Fund with $105 billion for programs housed under the Department of Education (ED), with just over $29 billion directed to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which would provide grants directly to institutions of higher education, based largely on the enrollment of full-time equivalent Pell Grant recipients. While the bill allows institutions to use the funds to defray costs they incurred due to the coronavirus and to provide emergency financial aid grants to students, including those exclusively enrolled in distance education, the bill does not specify an amount that must be distributed directly to students. The bill does not address student eligibility for emergency grants except for students enrolled exclusively in distance education.
Sponsor: Sen. Smith [D-MN]
Cosponsors: 2 (2D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would create a grant program to provide emergency grants to college students to help them get through unanticipated emergencies. The grant funds would be given by the Department of Education to institutions of higher education and the institution would be responsible for distributing the emergency financial-aid grants to students. The grant would not count like other forms of financial assistance for the purposes of calculating a student's amount of need and would not be considered in determining the amount of financial aid for recipients for succeeding academic years.
Sponsor: Sen. Alexander (R-TN)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act would dedicate $29 billion directed to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). 85%, would be distributed to institutions based 90% on the enrollment of full-time Pell Grant recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education at the onset of the pandemic, and 10% on full-time non-Pell Grant recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education. 10% of the HEERF funds would be distributed to Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to address needs directly related to COVID-19, and the final 5% would be directed to institutions that the secretary of education determines to have “the greatest unmet needs related to coronavirus. The HEALS Act would allow institutions to use the funds to defray costs they incurred due to the coronavirus, such as lost revenue, technology costs to transition to distance education, and payroll, and to provide emergency financial aid grants to students, including those exclusively enrolled in distance education.
Sponsor: Sen. Murray [D-WA]
Cosponsors: 21 (20D; 0R; 1I)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The bill establishes the Higher Education Relief Fund (HERF), which will provide over $132 billion in funding for students and institutions of higher education. Included in the bill is a provision to reverse the Secretary of Education’s recent decision to exclude Dreamers from receiving COVID-19 relief aid that was authorized under the CARES Act. This legislation invests over $1 billion in adult education and workforce development. This funding will support programs that serve adult English learners through adult and family literacy activities.
Sponsor: Sen. Kaine [D-VA]
Cosponsors: 0 (0D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill amends the provisions relating to the higher education emergency relief fund to allow institution to use the funds towards a more broad range of items, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff training, and payroll.
Publication Date: 10/26/2020