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Amata welcomes $1,617,855 CARES Act education grant for ASCC

Congresswoman Aumua Amata
Half is specified as assistance for students
Sources: Media release from Cong. Aumua Amata's office

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata on Monday welcomed another vital CARES Act coronavirus relief grant, this time $1,617,855 through the U.S. Department of Education to aid the American Samoa Community College, with $808,943 (half of the total) specified as assistance for the students.

“This grant has two important elements, over $800,000 in aid for the college’s needs, and also over $800,000 in direct assistance for students,” said Aumua Amata. “Thank you to our college and education professionals for investing in the lives and futures of our young adults. God bless our students as they endure this interruption to their plans. I appreciate this action by Secretary DeVos and this much-needed help to our students.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced $6 billion nationwide being distributed to colleges, including direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The funding is through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the bipartisan $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27 of this year.

"What's best for students is at the center of every decision we make," said Secretary DeVos. "That's why we prioritized getting funding out the door quickly to college students who need it most. We don't want unmet financial needs due to the coronavirus to derail their learning."

The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary education students and institutions. Colleges are required to use the $6.28 billion to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as course materials, technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare. In order to access the funds, the Department must receive a signed certification from the higher education institution affirming they will distribute the funds in accordance with applicable law.

School allocations are set by formula prescribed in the CARES Act that considers the number of full-time students who are Pell-eligible, the total population of the school, and the number of students who were not enrolled full-time online before the coronavirus outbreak. The Department uses the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and Federal Student Aid (FSA) for this calculation.

Institutions will receive allocations and ongoing guidance for their institutional share of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund in the coming weeks. Institutions will be able to use these funds to cover costs associated with significant changes due to the coronavirus.

(Additional information on funding for students, including data tables, can be found here. The Secretary's letter to college and university presidents with additional information on this funding allocation can be found here.)

The funding allocations are part of nearly $31 billion Congress allocated to the Department to distribute to students, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions under the CARES Act. The Department, at the Secretary's urging, is working to make funds available as quickly as possible.

Under the Secretary's leadership, colleges were given immediate regulatory flexibility so students' educations could continue online. The Secretary also provided student loan relief to tens of millions of borrowers by setting all federally held student loan interest rates to zero percent and allowing borrowers to defer payments for 60 days without interest. The CARES Act extends those benefits to six months. The Department also stopped all federal wage garnishments and collections actions for borrowers with federally held loans in default.