The CARES Act and subsequent legislation provide much needed financial relief to higher education institutions and their students to defray the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific manner in which schools may use these HEERF grants, however, has been an ongoing source of confusion. On Friday, the Department of Education (ED) released new guidance and updated existing FAQs to help clarify significant questions about the use of HEERF funds. Together, these new guidance documents signal the ED is encouraging a more flexible approach on how schools may spend these funds, including permitting schools to use HEERF I and II grants to offset expanded categories of costs incurred since March 13, 2020, the date the national emergency was declared. It is expected the ED will formalize the same treatment of HEERF III grants in the near future.
Nevertheless, other significant questions remain, including whether DACA and undocumented students are eligible to receive funds. The ED is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to answer this pressing and important question for our DACA and undocumented students.