Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new guidance regarding the third round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III) relief funds allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). This guidance signifies a significant shift toward ensuring all students, including those who are not are eligible for federal financial aid, have their education supported. It also clarifies how best to use funds to help students stay enrolled and meet their basic needs. This guidance comes at a vital time: a growing body of evidence shows that emergency aid is an effective and efficient way to help students stay enrolled and graduate. Ensuring all students are eligible is crucial in building a more equitable higher education system and economic recovery.
This week, President Biden introduced the American Families Plan (AFP). This proposal clearly demonstrates the Biden Administration’s commitment to invest in workers, students, and families who have been decimated by the pandemic. The AFP provides much-needed support for #RealCollege students, and its proposals are closely aligned with the Hope Center’s 2021 federal policy agenda. These supports and investments could not be more urgent: the Hope Center’s most recent annual survey demonstrates that students are facing unprecedented financial hardship and basic needs insecurity. The challenges they face risk their educational success, our future workforce, and our nation’s economic recovery.