April 9 (UPI) -- More than $6 billion in cash grants will be "immediately" dispersed to help college students recover from disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education said Thursday.
The $6.28 billion in aid "will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities," U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the announcement. And these institutions are required to use the money to help students pay for expenses, such as course materials, technology, food, housing, health care and child care, which are related to the pandemic.
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act authorized, is the source of the funding. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion relief package to support Americans and the U.S. economy, into law on March 27.
"What's best for students is at the center of every decision we make," DeVos said. "That's why we prioritized getting funding out the door quickly to college students who need it most. We don't want unmet financial needs due to the coronavirus to derail their learning."
For post-secondary schools to receive the funds, they will have to submit a signed certification that they will distribute the funds in compliance with the law, then it will be up to the schools to decide which students get the cash grants.
Allocations are based on a formula the CARES Act set. This formula weighs factors, such as the number of full-time students who are eligible for Pell grants and the number of students out of the total population who were not enrolled in online classes full time before the coronavirus crisis forced them to transition to distance learning.
Overall, the Act provides nearly $14 billion to help post-secondary students, colleges and universities.
Postsecondary schools will receive guidance for the institutional share of allocations in coming weeks.
The funding allocations are part of nearly $31 billion allocated to the Department of Education to distribute to students, K-12 schools and postsecondary schools under the CARES Act.