By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter
The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation has called on Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos to redistribute aid that was provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and returned by certain schools within their jurisdiction, to other in-state institutions in need.
As the department began to allocate and distribute aid provided by the CARES Act, a number of schools, targeted for their endowment size, were subjected to a pressure campaign from the Trump administration to abstain from grants due to their general financial well-being, leading to some institutions removing themselves from aid consideration.
Those funds that were either returned or refused by schools back in April have still not been reallocated and it is unclear how the department plans to redistribute that aid. Since institutions have until September 30 to apply for funding, ED may be looking to do one reallocation, rather than multiple rounds, so seeing any aid redistribution may still be a few months away.
Specifically citing the decisions made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to forgo or decline their aid allocation, the delegation urged ED to target those funds to low-income students in need at other Massachusetts institutions.
“In light of these circumstances, and to best effectuate congressional intent under the CARES Act to help institutions and students in need, the Department should redistribute within Massachusetts returned funds from institutions within the state,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Secretary DeVos. “Many institutions in Massachusetts, including our 15 community colleges, would greatly benefit from the redistribution of returned HEER funds and additional emergency resources.”
Meanwhile, Congress is now plotting out its next aid package, with Democrats pitching the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act as a way to help higher education institutions navigate the uncharted waters, while Senate Republicans plan to release a proposal soon with the goal of enacting another bout of aid before both chambers depart for August recess.
Publication Date: 7/20/2020
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