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Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Kaine Introduces Bill To Help Higher Education Institutions Access Federal Funding To Support Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Coronavirus Relief Flexibility for Students and Institutions Act to fix several implementation issues with the higher education emergency relief fund in the CARES Act by providing institutions of higher education and students with the increased flexibility Congress intended. This bill would make an additional 7.5 million students eligible for emergency financial aid and allow institutions of higher education to use CARES Act funds to cover revenue losses incurred as a result of COVID-19. It would also ensure that colleges hardest hit by COVID-19 are receiving the support they need. Kaine will push for this legislation to be passed by the Senate as quickly as possible.

“In this difficult time, colleges desperately need the flexibility to best serve their students. This bill will help ensure that Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education follow Congress’ intent to stabilize our institutions of higher education that are hurting from COVID-19 and provide emergency financial aid for the students who need it, not just those that who have met bureaucratic requirements,” Kaine said.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Allow emergency stabilization funds to be used to cover lost revenue for colleges, rather than limiting federal funding to the Department of Education’s narrow interpretation that funds can only be used for new expenses associated with instruction as a result of the transition to distance learning.
  • Maintain that no less than 50 percent of CARES Act funding be used to provide emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Ensure that emergency financial aid grants are made available to a broad group of students with financial need, not just those who have filled out a FAFSA application and are already eligible under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
  • Better target funds designated for colleges hardest hit by COVID-19 by requiring an application to demonstrate such needs, rather than providing all colleges with $500,000 in taxpayer funds regardless of size.  

You can access text of the bill here.