Governors can now apply for their share of the $3 billion made available to make sure education continues during the public health emergency, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Tuesday.
The $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund is part of the $2.2 trillion aid package, known as the CARES Act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last month. It is designed to be a flexible block grant that would allow governors to decide how much of the money goes to public and private K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations.
DeVos said in a press release that the department has streamlined GEER’s application process to get those emergency funds to the states as quickly as possible. She also wanted governors to take the opportunity to “truly rethink and transform the approach to education during this national emergency and ensure learning continues.”
“At a time when so many school boards and superintendents have shut down learning for the balance of the school year, I want to encourage each and every governor to focus on continuity of education for all students. Parents, families, teachers, and other local education leaders are depending on their leadership to ensure students don’t fall behind,” said DeVos.
According to the Education Department, the amount of money each state is eligible to receive largely depends on the state’s relative population of people ages 5 to 24, and the number of children counted under the Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
The department started to distribute $6.3 billion CARES Act funds to colleges and universities last week. The money is meant to be used as cash grants to help students cover expenses related to disruptions to their education because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak, including course materials, technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare.
The CARES Act funds are available to all types of higher education institutions, including public and private nonprofit four-year universities, community colleges, and for-profits. How much money each institution will receive is based on a Congress-approved formula, which is weighted toward institutions that enroll more low-income Pell Grant recipients. For example, New Jersey’s Rutgers University, with 30 percent of its student receiving Pell Grants, will be given $54 million.
“What’s best for students is at the center of every decision we make,” said DeVos in a press release. “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.”