U.S. Department of Education Solicits Comments on Proposed Institutional Eligibility Criteria for HEERF Supplemental Aid

On February 25th, the U.S. Department of Education published a notice requesting comment on proposed eligibility criteria for implementing the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), Section 314(a)(3) program, called the Supplemental Aid to Institutions of Higher Education (SAIHE) Program for which Congress authorized at set aside of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF). The notice also requests public comment on the proposed criteria and application information that the Department will use to determine eligibility. Only public and non-profit institutions of higher education are eligible for funding under Section 314(a)(3).

According to the notice, the Department is proposing to use the following institutional criteria to determine SAIHE eligibility of those institutions with the greatest unmet needs related to COVID-19:

  1. Minority Serving Institution (MSI) or meets the Strengthening Institutions Program criteria in the FY 2021 Title III, Title V, and Title VII Eligibility Matrix, published by the Office of Postsecondary Education, and was not also included in the MSI, Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) allocation tables under CRRSAA and therefore did not receive any award under assistance listings 84.425J, 84.425K, 84.425L, or 84.425M.
  2. Institution did not receive a grant award under CRRSAA HEERF II section 314(a)(1) student aid portion or section 314(a)(1) institutional portion programs (assistance listings 84.425E and 84.425F), but the institution is otherwise eligible. Institutions funded under this category would be required to expend their SAIHE funds in the same manner as required under the CRRSAA HEERF II (a)(1) programs.
  3. Institution did not receive funding under one or both of the CARES Act HEERF section 314(a)(1) student aid portion or section 314(a)(1) institutional portion programs (assistance listings 84.425E and 84.425F) due to missing the application deadline or other application issues. Institutions funded under this category would be required to expend their SAIHE funds in the same manner as required under CARES Act HEERF (a)(1) programs.
  4. Institutional branch campus that is designated as a MSI or meets the Strengthening Institutions Program criteria but did not, nor did its parent institution, receive 314(a)(2) funding.
  5. Institutions that received a section 314(a)(1) allocation that did not reflect the institution’s need because of an institutional merger or a Title IV Program Participation Agreement (PPA) effective date that did not allow for inclusion of Pell recipients in the formula.
  6. Institutions serving a high population of students with financial and other needs that have been exacerbated due to the coronavirus. The Department invites comment on this proposed category, including on specific ways to target funds to institutions with the highest-need students.
  7. Institutions with a large graduate student population. The Department invites comments on appropriate criteria to use to define a large graduate student population for the purposes of eligibility for the SAIHE program. 

    Comments are due to the Department on Monday, March 8, 2021 and should be sent to HEERF@ed.gov with the subject line: “SAIHE Program Criteria.”

    For more information please contact, Jonathan Helwink, Katherine D. Brodie,  any of the attorneys in the Higher Education Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

    This Post has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm’s full disclaimer.