Top Takeaways from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Please note: This blog is current to the date of its publication, Wednesday, April 15. For additional updates or assistance navigating these uncertain times, please contact us or visit our SST COVID-19 resource page.


The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently published a letter addressing the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides several methods for distributing an estimated $14 billion in assistance to institutions across the country.

Below, SST’s experts outline what higher education institutions need to know about receiving, allocating and documenting their funding. More detailed information can be accessed through the ED’s website or by contacting your SST account manager.

  • $12.56 billion in funding will be distributed to institutions using a formula based on student enrollment.
  • Institutions must submit a certification and agreement through gov before receiving funds.
  • After the ED has received completed certificates, institutions may draw down their emergency assistance funds using the ED’s G5 system.
  • 50% of authorized amounts must be reserved to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.
  • Each institution may develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds, which may include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need (SST recommends developing a process as soon as possible).
  • SST recommends institutions keep detailed account records of amounts received and disbursed to students.
  • Finally, consider using a separate bank account to deposit and disburse funds from the CARES Act to keep them separate from operating funds.

SST is committed to equipping our clients with the most up-to-date information concerning COVID-19. We’re closely monitoring developments and encourage you to contact us with any questions or explore our COVID-19 resource page for additional information.

Thanks to SST Partner Eileen Keller for or providing the content for this blog post.