About 18 million college students got a financial boost from Biden’s COVID-19 rescue law

WASHINGTON — An estimated 18 million college students received financial aid from President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 rescue package and other relief funds, helping millions stay enrolled during the pandemic, according to a new Department of Education report.

The report, obtained by USA TODAY and set to be publicly released Wednesday, comes as the Supreme Court will soon decide the future of separate Biden action that sought to forgive student loan debt for millions of college students.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed into law in March 2021, included $40 billion for colleges and universities through a historic infusion of money into the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, or HEERF.

US President Joe Biden arrives to speak about student debt relief at Central New Mexico Community College Student Resource Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on November 3, 2022.

How did Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds work?

About 90% of the additional HEERF funding awarded to 5,000 colleges and universities exhausted its share by the end of 2022, according to the Education Department’s data.

Funds could be used to support any expense related to a student’s cost to attend college including food housing, mental health and child care.

More: Biden will end COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11 after more than 3 years

More: Could Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan be affected by the end of the COVID emergency?

In 2021 alone, college and universities passed on $19.5 billion in emergency financial grants to 12.7 million students, according to the report. About 80% of low-income Pell Grant recipients received grant money.

First lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona are expected to formally roll out the data Wednesday.

What happens now?: COVID funding helped historically Black colleges survive the pandemic.

Who received the emergency student aid?

Those who received emergency aid grant include:

  • 6 million community college students

  • 450,000 students at Historically Black College and Universities, known as HBCUs

  • 8 million students at minority-serving Institutions

  • 24,000 students at Tribal Colleges and Universities

The Biden administration said Monday it plans to end both the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency in May, restructuring how the federal government will respond to the pandemic that is entering its fourth year.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden emergency aid helped 18 million college students during pandemic

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