More federal funds going to community colleges, rural institutions and serving minorities

Coahoma Community College graduatesThe U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced Wednesday that 244 colleges and universities have received the final $198 million in federal grants through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

“These funds were earmarked for institutions with the greatest unmet need to ensure they can stay open and keep students enrolled to graduate,” said First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who is also a professor of community college, during a press conference Wednesday. on the news. “Today, I am delighted to announce the approximately 250 winners of these funds, including more than 100 community colleges.”

In March 2021, President Biden signed the US bailout, which provided nearly $40 billion in relief funds to colleges and universities to help students affected by the pandemic.

Nearly 90% of this latest round of funds will go to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), minority-serving institutions (MSIs), community colleges, rural institutions, and institutions that serve large student populations in low income.

“As a minority-serving institution, we understand the challenges many of our students face, from balancing full-time employment, food insecurity and housing,” said Dr. Donald Generals, president of Community College of Philadelphia, one of the recent scholarship recipients, at the press conference. “For this reason, we are pleased to know that colleges like ours can use certain federal funds to directly support students.”

The majority of institutions that receive these funds are required to distribute about half of all scholarships directly to students who need them the most, according to ED. This requirement is intended to provide more support to students struggling with housing instability, tuition fees, food insecurity, and other basic needs.

Dr. Valmadge Towner, president of Coahoma Community College, an HBCU in Mississippi, also spoke at the conference, as the institution was one of the latest grant recipients.

Towner noted that Coahoma had used previous HEERF money to meet a range of needs, including providing hotspots for students with limited internet access, helping them take their courses online. Additional support, he said, will be just as essential.

“That’s the mission of the Biden-Harris administration,” U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said at the press conference. “A higher education that is more equitable and more inclusive than ever.”

Rebecca Kelliher can be reached at [email protected]

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