U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is praising the release of money to help students weather the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak. But he’s pressing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a plan to ensure those dollars get into students’ hands quickly.
The U.S. Department of Education released a list of universities set to receive that relief money. The recently-approved CARES Act set aside roughly $14 billion for universities, about half of which must go to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants.
On Tuesday, Deutch authored a letter lobbying DeVos to get that money into students’ hands as soon as possible. College-aged students who can be claimed as a dependent are not eligible for the $1,200 per person payout established under the CARES Act.
The new list from the Education Department accounts for more than $12.5 billion of that overall pot, and nearly $6.3 billion of the emergency aid money. But the remaining 10% of the money remains unallocated. And even the money that has been set aside could take up to a year to get to students in need.
“I appreciate the decision to prioritize students’ urgent need for this relief,” Deutch said in a Friday statement.
“Their lives have been upended by this pandemic, including their housing and food supplies. This is a welcome first step putting their urgent needs first. However, as I outlined in my letter this week, Secretary DeVos must still clarify the guidance for these funds.”
Among the questions Deutch still wants answered are why institutions have “an entire year” to disburse the money and when universities can access the full $14 billion.
Several of Florida’s universities will receive big bucks under the Education Department’s plan.
Florida International University will receive more than $38 million, half of which must go toward emergency aid for students. The University of South Florida is allotted nearly $35 million. More than $31 million will go toward the University of Florida with another $29 million being sent to Florida State University.
In Broward and Palm Beach counties — portions of which Deutch represents — Broward College secured more than $27 million and Florida Atlantic University will garner more than $22 million.
Again, half of these award values must be doled out to students in emergency financial aid. But universities will be able to decide how those grants will be handed out and who will qualify.
“I hope Secretary DeVos will promptly respond to my April 6 letter and give further clarity to our students and college and universities to ensure the funds reach their proper destination as Congress intended,” Deutch said in closing.
“Oversight of this program will be vital to ensure every dollar of this emergency aid will end up in the hands of students in need to meet the challenges arising out of this pandemic.”