Dept. of Ed gives $36B to higher education

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education made over $36 billion available to higher education under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, helping over 5,000 institutions and millions of students with emergency financial aid to “ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 national emergency.” This new round of funding makes $10 billion available to community colleges, $2.6 billion to HBCUs, $190 million to tribal colleges and $6 billion to other minority-serving institutions. 

Amrit Ahluwalia, director of strategic insights at higher education powerhouse Modern Campus says“COVID severely limited our capacity to travel, not just internationally but even within countries. This heightened an already growing demand for online access to education and training. According to Strada, 46% of American adults report an interest in enrolling in online education. Meanwhile, while postsecondary enrollment fell, bootcamp registrations grew 30% in 2020 over 2019. 

The competitive landscape for postsecondary institutions today is not what it was during the Great Recession,” Ahluwalia explained. “Students won’t just enroll with you because you’re the only game in town. They’re price-conscious and outcome-oriented consumers who are willing and able to do the research to find the education provider whose offerings align most closely with their needs. For colleges and universities across the U.S. who focus on creating access and pathways to success for traditionally underserved populations, this funding provides both short-term and long-term opportunities. 

In the short term, it creates the capacity for higher education institutions to keep their doors open and provide the critical programming and services their learners need. It also creates the opportunity for these institutions to reset their playbooks and adapt to delivering the kinds of education offerings and experiences that learners expect—both today and into the future, Ahluwalia said. 


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